Flat jockey Michelle Payne has set herself the personal goal of winning next year’s Grand Annual Steeplechase over the jumps.
The young rider is hopeful she can achieve her dream at Warrnambool Racecourse in May next year, despite her predominately flat course career.
Payne believes that winning the Grand Annual would be as thrilling to her as winning the $6 million Melbourne Cup.
“I reckon it would be like winning the Melbourne Cup,” she said.
“Could you imagine the thrill?”
Payne’s brother Patrick is one of the leading Australian jumps jockeys and she believes that riding jumps horses is a big part of her heritage.
“Paddy will have so many jumping horses next year that I thought if I was ever going to do something like this, now would be the perfect time,” Payne said.
“Dad (Paddy Sr) rode over the jumps and we’ve been schooling horses since we were kids.
“I guess it’s in my blood.”
Payne has won four Group 1 races, with three of these being aboard the talented Yosei.
Her career was put on hold earlier this year after she suffered a broken neck in a horrific race fall in February.
Now in full health, Payne can pursue her jumps racing dreams.
“It’s a dream. I was giving it serious thought before I had my fall (in February) but I put it on the backburner until I recovered,” she said.
“Now I have my confidence back, I thought why not?
“We (flat riders) think jumps racing is really dangerous but the jumps riders think flat racing is more dangerous because the horses run faster.”