Advertisement

'This Is The One': Film Celebrates History-Making Jockey Michelle Payne

She's the Aussie jockey who was catapulted to international fame after beating 100 to one odds to win the Melbourne Cup.

In 2015, Michelle Payne became the first woman to win the prestigious race in its 155-year history.

Now, a film from Aussie screen legend Rachel Griffiths will retell Payne's incredible story, overcoming 15 years of knock-backs to cement herself in Australian sporting folklore.

Payne and Griffiths sat down with The Project's Lisa Wilkinson to share the story of their first meeting ahead of the release of 'Ride Like A Girl' -- Griffiths' first feature film as director.

Griffiths said she had always wanted to make a female coming of age story, and said she knew Payne's was the one she wanted to tell, after watching her history-making win.

"I didn't know that women were jockeys, I certainly didn’t know that Michelle was riding in that race," Griffiths told Wilkinson.

"So it really was kind of like one of those moments you know when the helmet comes off and the hair comes out and I was like 'oh my god'."

Griffiths revealed she had trouble getting in touch with Payne to pitch the idea, but finally got her chance at an autograph signing in Sydney.

The pair haven't looked back since.

Michelle Payne , Rachle Griffiths and Stevie Payne at the Ride Like A Girl Partners Announcement at Sportsbet-Ballarat Racecourse on March 16, 2018 in Ballarat, Australia. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

As the first female champion at the Melbourne Cup, Payne admits she has come up against some sexism in her career.

"I think a lot of the boys had this thing where they put you down a little bit and I think that definitely drove me to be more successful," she told Wilkson.

The jockey also revealed she has had her sights set on the Melbourne Cup from a young age.

"I was obsessed from as young as 5 years old I remember so clearly watching the Melbourne cup, my brother was having his first ride in it, and they wheeled the TV out at, at school ...  obviously you … could never imagine that a dream could come true".

While the film, which will star Aussie actress Teresa Palmer, focuses on Payne's symbol as a woman in racing, it also pays homage to the men in her life who have helped her along the way.

She was brought up by horse-trainer father Paddy, and supported by her best friend and brother Stevie, after the death of their mother when Payne was just six months old. Payne said her family has always believed in her and seen her through countless injuries and hurdles.

Michelle Payne and her brother Steven Payne, who has Down syndrome and works as a strapper pose with the cup. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

In more than 7600 starts and 756 wins, Payne has racked up dozens of broken bones and injuries, but two life-threatening falls -- one which left her with damage to her brain -- almost stopped her in her tracks.

"At one point I was so depressed that I felt almost suicidal, that I’m never going to be normal again," Payne told Wilkinson.

Payne said her dad, who will be portrayed in the upcoming film by Aussie screen legend Sam Neill, pushed her to go down another path after the tragic death of Payne's sister after a fall during trackwork.

"But I think Dad especially saw that if I’m not doing what I love doing then what’s the point of living anyway."

Paddy and Michelle Payne. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

While Payne admits she worries about the long-term effects of her injuries, it hasn't stopped her, with the jockey now also a trainer.

Payne parted ways with her own trainer Darren Weir after he was sensationally handed a four-year racing ban following the alleged discovery of electric shock devices on his property.

"I just hope he’s okay cause he's you know, gone from being, you know building this huge empire to its all gone," Payne said.

READ MORE: Horse Trainer Darren Weir Disqualified For Four Years

READ MORE: After The Darren Weir Scandal, What Happens To The New Michelle Payne Movie?

Weir will be portrayed in Griffith's upcoming film, who admits she was worried that Payne's success could be "hijacked" by Weir's choices in other parts of his life.

"The truth is he kept a woman on a horse in the Melbourne Cup which is, only happened a handful of times," Griffiths said.

Griffiths hopes the film will show Payne as a "true champion of women."

"I believe that it will utterly cement Michelle’s legacy as one of the world’s most extraordinary athletes."

Ride Like  A Girl is set to be released later this year.

Catch Lisa's full interview with Michelle Payne and Rachel Griffiths on The Sunday Project from 6:30pm or catch up on tenplay.com.au.