Still no decision on Michelle Payne comeback

Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne still hasn’t set a deadline on making a decision if she will return to the saddle or not.

Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne, above, has still made no decision if she will return to race riding. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne, above, has still made no decision if she will return to race riding. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Payne said that she has recovered well from pancreatic surgery following a nasty fall at Mildura in May and has been riding track work and working hard on her fitness, but is still undecided on a return to race riding.

“Very undecided. Have been back riding track work now for seven weeks today actually,” Payne told Sky Sports Radio.

“I have a bit of base fitness to me and I have been doing a lot of training outside of that.”

“So it is just one of those things, I am trying to feel my way, see what happens. I am just getting fit again and something will sway me either way.”

“I am just going to try to get fit again, get really well and see what happens”

“I don’t have to rush. I want to make sure that I am really well and fit because if I do return I want to be in good form.”

Payne has been getting different messages from her large family if she should continue riding following her latest fall and injuries, but said her father, Paddy, is one of her biggest supporters.

“To be honest dad is probably the only one sort of supportive of me riding again of anybody. He doesn’t interfere at all,” Payne said.

“He would be happy to see me retire and also more than happy to see me follow what I feel like I want to do.”

“He is very supportive either way. But after listening to an interview Patrick (Payne, brother) did last week when it all came out that I wasn’t riding Prince Of Penzance first up, it did hit home a bit that I can understand the feeling that you put your family on or someone on, I think I can totally understand where they are coming from in that regards.”

Payne created history when she became the first female jockey to win the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last November when she rode a brilliant race to get $101 chance Prince Of Penzance over the line in first position.

But Payne’s chances of defending her Melbourne Cup title on the Darren Weir trained Prince Of Penzance nosedived when she was seriously injured in the Mildura fall.

Payne’s bad fortunes continued when she was told that she would not be aboard Prince Of Penance when he kicks off his Melbourne Cup defence campaign in the Group 1 $500,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 27.

Now that she won’t be riding Prince Of Penzance in his 2016 Sprint Carnival opener, Payne said that she doesn’t have any firm Spring commitments yet except for a possibility of picking up the ride on the Ciaron Maher trained Azkadella.

“I haven’t got anything lined up at this stage apart from possibly Azkadellia if she happens to go ahead to America,” Payne said.

“Obviously a lot has to happen for that to happen. I am working really hard and I couldn’t do much more than what I am doing now.

“I am just going to make sure I make the right decision.”

Payne has applied to Racing Victoria for a dual jockey – trainer’s licence and will find out next week if the application has been approved.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.