Michelle Payne and Rachel Griffiths sit down to talk about the smash-hit film Ride Like A Girl, inspiring women and breaking glass ceilings
The dreams we have as five-year-olds seldom stay the same into adulthood – unless you were one of those kids who REALLY knew what they wanted. Growing up, Michelle Payne was just that… and she has the video to prove it.
At the start of the film Ride Like A Girl, archival footage shows a journalist asking five-year-old Michelle what sort of jockey she’d like to be. Her answer? “I just want to win the Melbourne Cup,” she says matter-of-factly, looking him straight in the eye.
Pretty impressive for someone of such a tender age (it’s worth Googling if you haven’t seen it).
On the first Tuesday in November 2015 that dream became a reality. In the 154 years of the male-dominated Melbourne Cup, there had never been a winning female jockey, but Michelle wasn’t going to let the history books forget her name.
The bookies gave her a 100 to 1 chance of winning on six-year-old gelding Prince of Penzance and she delivered. As Michelle crossed the finish line, she took with her the hopes and dreams of countless girls and women who’d ever been told they couldn’t do something because of their gender.
Audiences around the country and the world fell in love with her gutsy win.
She attracted even more fans thanks to her post-race interview, where she famously said all the naysayers (who frowned upon female jockeys riding in elite races) could “get stuffed”. She said it all with her trademark grin.
Looking back on the day Michelle says she was feeling unbelievably calm and confident going into the race, probably helped by the fact she’d ridden Prince of Penzance in 23 of his 24 starts.
“When we went over that finishing line it was just the most incredible feeling you could have ever imagined. It was a dream from five-years-old. Twenty-five years of praying that I would one day get an opportunity in the Melbourne Cup and one day be able to win it,” she explains.
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(Photos courtesy of Transmission Films and Jim Lee)