Former Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne has announced she will retire from horse racing at the end of the 2023 season. Payne shot to superstardom after becoming the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in its 155-year history on Prince of Penzance in 2015.
However, after a stellar career in Australian horse racing, the 38-year-old has announced she will retire from the sport. Payne admitted she had not completed the minimum requirement of 24 rides in two years to renew her license.
MELBOURNE CUP 2022: The good, the bad and the ugly of race day
Injury impacted her races and the organisation took it into account. However, Payne admitted this was the 'sign' she had been looking for in the twilight of her career.
And Payne made the sad admission she felt 'lost' in the years after her 2015 victory having achieved her ultimate goal. "I've been asked so many times since (winning) the Cup, 'When are you retiring?'. I understand why. Winning (it) was my ultimate goal, so I was lost after that for a bit. But I didn't want to panic and now, (after) eight years, it feels like the right time," she told Stellar Magazine.
"It's hard to keep in shape for racing competitively. It's a lot of work, both physically and mentally. But I've ridden really well this year because I see an end in sight.
"I'm really motivated. My body is feeling great. I've got a really nice young team of horses that have been racing well and I'm just enjoying it while it lasts."
Michelle Payne's career after horse racing
Since her win at the Melbourne Cup, Payne has moved into broadcast having visited the UK to work on ITV's coverage of Royal Ascot. She will also feature for Channel 10 next week during the Melbourne Cup coverage.
Payne said the hardest part of the moving away from the competitive side of the sport was the day-to-day training where the jockey would form a bond with the horse. Payne has been working with horses for the last six years with her brother in their stable.
She is hoping her legacy can inspire the next generation of women in horse racing take up the mantle. Payne's last race was back in September where she finished fifth. Her last win was on her own horse, Smokin' Princess, back in August. Payne has five Group 1 victories to her name with 772 career wins.
Pioneering jockey Michelle Payne, the only female rider to win Melbourne Cup, is to retire at end of season
Payne, 38, confirms the decision in an interview with @StellarMagAU pic.twitter.com/wr0nJssiiG
— Francis Keogh (@HonestFrank) October 28, 2023
Well done Michelle .
A Champion still !
— Michael Gleeson (@gleeson82873) October 29, 2023
I just want to say to everyone else, get stuffed if they think women aren’t strong enough because we just beat the world. 🥱
— Chicken Tikka Jahlfrezi (@oz_cracker) October 29, 2023
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