Victoria’s leading trainer Darren Weir will accept the decision of the owners of Prince Of Penzance to go without Michelle Payne in the saddle when the 2015 Melbourne Cup winner resumes in the Group 1 $500,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 27.
Payne made history when she steered $101 chance Prince Of Penzance to victory in Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last year by becoming the first female jockey to win Australia’s most famous race.
But her chances of being aboard Prince Of Penzance in this year’s Melbourne Cup to defend her title have diminished since she suffered severe injuries in a fall at Mildura on May 23.
Payne is in the process of rebuilding her career in the saddle after undergoing pancreatic surgery as a result of the fall and connections of Prince Of Penzance have concerns that she would not be fully recovered in time for the Memsie Stakes.
Regular riders for the Weir stable, Brad Rawiller and John Allen, are high up on the list to replace Payne in the weight for age Memsie Stakes.
“It is the owner’s decision at the end of the day,” Weir told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“They have decided that they want a fit healthy jockey so obviously if Michelle can get back to riding in good form down the track they probably consider her to ride him later on I guess.”
“At the end of the day it is their decision.”
“They have decided that’s what they want to do and that’s fine by me.”
Weir expects the connections to make a decisio0n in the near future who will partner Prince Of Penzance in the Memsie Stakes and said he would be happy with either Rawiller or Allen.
“Either one would be fine by me or whoever they decide. I haven’t heard who they are going to go with yet, but I am sure they will make a decision in the next few days,” Weir said.
Weir suggested that Payne is not totally out of contention for the Melbourne Cup ride if she can regain her race riding fitness and find some winning form.
“If she can get back in good form, fit and healthy, I suppose they would reconsider her but that is up to them,” Weir said.
“I think she is getting pretty close to be able to race ride again but obviously you need to go around a few times to get you eye back in.”
“She works the horse (Prince Of Penzance), but doesn’t work the horse every day. She might have a ride on him once every ten days. Other people ride him the other days.”
“She is working at our stable riding track work and doing the best she can to try and get back anyway.”
Following her Melbourne Cup winning ride, Payne was swamped with social and riding engagements including an invitation to ride at Royal Ascot, Ireland, France and Sweden in June, but the trip had to be put on the backburner following her shocking fall at Mildura.
Payne was reunited with the Darren Weir trained Prince Of Penzance at Morphettville on May 21 and at his first run since winning the Melbourne Cup ran a mighty race to finish second to stablemate Tonopah in the Group 3 $150,000 Robert & Fay Gerard R A Lee Stakes (1600m).
Prince Of Penzance is currently a $31 chance at Ladbrokes.com.au for the 2016 Melbourne Cup.