After making history in 2015 as the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup, champion jockey Michelle Payne has announced her plans to retire.
The 37-year-old surprised fans with the announcement during a recent interview in which she revealed that she will be stepping away after one last season.
“I’ve been waiting for when the time was going to feel right (to retire) and it feels like the end, but I’m looking forward to hopefully having a good season,” Payne told Racenet.com.au.
“I’ve been weaning off for a while with my riding, I obviously still love it and am passionate about it but you got to be realistic and things come to an end at some point.
“First of all, I’m looking forward to this last season and what comes beyond that.”
Still a bit to do before the end ???? https://t.co/f5qnv4Dkt0
— Michelle Payne (@mj_payne) May 24, 2023
Payne referenced her busy workload that includes managing her racing pursuits and training as the reason for taking a step back.
“It’s a big juggling act and I love it, while I’m still young and energetic enough for it, but I’m planning for the future,” she said.
“I’ve been full on in racing since I was 15 years old, so to take a little bit of back step and enjoy it will be nice as well.
“I think knowing that (next season) will be it will add fuel to the fire, I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve been waiting for when the time was going to feel right, and it feels like the end. But I’m looking forward to hopefully having a good season.”
Although fans expressed their desire to see Payne race a few more times, many were quick to offer their support.
“Looking forward to seeing you ride a few more winners. Choosing when you retire is a gift,” one person wrote.
“Good luck with it all and stay safe.”
“Whatever she does, Michelle will successful. She has the drive,” another commented.
“Great jockey left her mark now go on and enjoy your life.”
Payne nurtured a dream of becoming a successful jockey from a young age, boldly proclaiming to her friends at the age of seven that she would one day win the prestigious Melbourne Cup.
At the age of 15, Payne entered the world of horse racing, following in the footsteps of her older siblings. She won her debut race at Ballarat aboard Reigning, a horse trained by her father. However, her career was not without its share of setbacks. In 2004, she suffered a severe fall at the Sandown Racecourse in Melbourne, fracturing her skull and sustaining brain injuries.
Payne’s breakthrough came in 2009 when she won her first Group One race, the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield Racecourse, riding Allez Wonder. She went on to achieve significant victories, including riding Yosei to victory in the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield in 2010.
However, it was her remarkable performance in the 2015 Melbourne Cup that made Michelle Payne a household name. She gained national attention by winning two races at the Melbourne Cup carnival, including the prestigious Melbourne Cup itself. Riding Prince of Penzance, she became the first woman in the event’s 155-year history to claim victory.