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Michelle Payne to keep riding and lead Women in Racing initiative

Michelle Payne has her next career steps in mind. Photo: Vince CaligiuriMelbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne plans to make every post a winner in 2017 – both in the saddle and from her Ballarat training base, where she is partnering one of the country’s leading syndicators in a marketing initiative aimed at attracting more women into racing.
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Payne has teamed with n Thoroughbred Bloodstock, run by Ballarat based Darren Dance, to set up Women In Racing, a syndication programme restricted to female investors and owners.

The group will buy horses to be trained by Payne – with her long-term ambition being to train, as well as ride, another Melbourne Cup winner.

“We think this association can deliver on some themes about women and racing that are very close to my heart –and open the door for many, many more women to experience the thrill of part-ownership of a racehorse,” Payne said at a media call at her Ballarat base on Wednesday morning.

“There are a whole range of reasons why women, on the whole, don’t get involved in syndicates. We want to bust some of the myths that discourage women from participating, spell out exactly what the costs and potential gains are, and hopefully support the broader idea of women in racing, at all levels of the sport.”

Payne famously became the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup as a jockey when she steered the Darren Weir trained 100-1 outsider Prince of Penzance to victory at Flemington in November 2015.

Her success shattered a huge glass ceiling for women jockeys in this country. Hitherto many women – including Payne herself – had ridden group one race winners, but none had even gone close to winning one of the four majors, the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, the Cox Plate and the Golden Slipper.

She used her unique platform in the aftermath of the race winning celebrations to condemn what she said were sexist attitudes in the sport, traditional views that were holding back female involvement and advancement in a very tough industry.

Her syndication plan is designed to help encourage women who have not had an interest in racing do so in the future, as well as provide her with a ready made client base to build up her stable strength as she develops her training business.

She intends to carry on as a jockey at the same time as she holds a dual jockey/trainer license in Victoria.

She also made history in that sphere, as well, as she is the first Victorian woman to have ridden a winner unde dual jockey/trainer accreditation, which she has held since August.

n Thoroughbred Bloodstock co-founder Darren Dance said Payne had already proven herself as a leading rider, and was now positioned to become “one of this great country’s great Thoroughbred trainers”.

“Michelle’s attitude, as most ns now know, is that women are as good as men at anything,” he said.

“And what a lot of women don’t realise is just how easy and inexpensive it is to get involved in a syndicate.

“You don’t need to pay a fortune to create a winner, but you do need good horses and a great trainer, and through this partnership we think we have that covered.”

Its been a roller coaster 12 months for Payne, who has experienced huge highs and lows since winning the Cup.

She was feted wide and hardly rode at all in the months following the win as she capitalised on the media, promotional and PR opportunities that came her way. Her feat was recognised by the wider sporting community when she picked up a Don Award at the Sport Hall of Fame dinner earlier this year. Along with Black Caviar, Winx and Gai Waterhouse, hers is one of the few racing names that now resonates with the non racing community wide.

As a result of her post Cup inaction she dropped off the radar a little. Then, when she did come back to regular race riding, she experienced a horror fall at Mildura which left her with life threatening injuries and forced her to endure several months out of the saddle.

Since returning to riding in September she has steadily rebuilt her racetrack profile, riding a winner during the Cup week carnival at Flemington and on Boxing Day taking out the big race at Caulfield, the Christmas Stakes, aboard Henry Dwyer’s Lucky Liberty.

n Thoroughbred Bloodstock has been syndicating horses since 1994 and Payne has a long association with their fluorescent green silks having ridden group winners Platelet, Lohnspresso, and La Passe to victory.

Darren Dance also has a good eye for a Melbourne Cup horse, having bought this year’s runner up, Heartbreak City, as well as good stayers like Jakkalberry (third behind Green Moon in the 2012 Melbourne Cup) and Dandino ( fifth behind Fiorente a year later and a Flemington group race winner in 2015).

He has already bought two two-year-olds for Women In Racing, from the recent New Zealand Ready to Run sale; a filly by Makfi and a colt by Mastercraftsman.

Both horses will be trained by Payne and n Thoroughbred Bloodstock will be syndicating five per cent shares in both