Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne will focus her attention back on riding after a whirlwind three months of travelling around the nation since her historic win on Prince Of Penzance in November.
Payne has been the main attraction at numerous functions, speaking engagements and sporting events since she steered the Darren Weir trained stayer to victory in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3, becoming the first female jockey to do so.
While Payne has been overwhelmed with her new found fame, she says it is time now to focus on what she does best, riding in races and riding winners.
“It was in the months after the Cup, but now I’ve told the people managing me that’s my main focus, riding, and all that other stuff comes second,” Payne told the Herald Sun.
“I try to do as much as I can and just juggle it all.
“Sometimes it gets exhausting, but I’ve got a really good group of managers at (speakers agency) Saxton, they’re looking after me.”
Payne was last spotted at the Australian Open Tennis at Melbourne Park with surfing great Sally Fitzgibbons and tennis player Daria Gavrilova attending a “Celebration of Inspirational Women” event associated with the Australian Open.
Payne was swamped by fans but now says she is ready to return to the race track full time.
Her numerous public appearances has left her little time to team back up with the Weir stable with the premiership winning trainer saying there is no ill feeling between them but the riders who do the work on the training track get rewarded with the rides.
“I don’t really want to get into that too much,” Payne said.
“It’s just been basically because after the Cup I was travelling around Australia promoting the win, so hopefully we’ll get back into routine and everything will be fine again.”
Payne hasn’t ridden for Weir since the Ballarat Cup meeting on November 21 but Prince Of Penzance’s part owner John Richards said that she would retain the mount on the Melbourne Cup winner.
Payne was in action at the rich Magic Millions Carnival at the Gold Coast in early January where she rode a winner for her brother Patrick on Husson Eagle in the $1m Magic Millions Sprint (1100m).
And she will be in action at Flemington on Saturday with two rides, the unbeaten Pattern in the John Calvert BenchMark 78 Handicap (1400m) and on Marco Polo in the Kyle Smith BenchMark 84 Handicap (1400m).
The Robert Hickmott trained – Lloyd Williams owned Pattern has only been to the races on two occasions with Payne in the saddle both times and the pair are chasing a hat trick of wins when they line up at Flemington on the weekend and Payne is grateful for the support of the high profile stable.
“He’s (Williams) saying what a great job I’m doing,’’ Payne said.
“It’s just great to be getting the support from him and hopefully others that will come along. That’s what we need, the support to do well.”
Pattern will start favourite in the John Calvert Handicap and is currently $3.10 at Ladbrokes.com.au while Marco Polo is one of the outsiders of the field at $31 in the Kyle Smith Handicap.