Does Michelle Payne's Melbourne Cup-Winning Horse Recognise Her?
You win the most famous race in Australia. Years later, does the horse even know you?
The answer is yes. Or at least, sort of.
When Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup aboard Prince of Penzance in 2015, it was one of Australia's greatest sporting moments.
She was just the sixth female jockey to ride in the race, which that year was in its 155th edition. And as we all know, she won. And now they're making a movie.
Payne had ridden Prince of Penzance in 23 of its 24 previous starts. She "knew" the horse, and the horse "knew" her. That doesn't mean they swapped Christmas cards made of sweet crunchy hay. It's to say that jockeys have an affinity with certain horses. They know when to make their run, how hard to push the horse. They understand its abilities and how to make the most of it.
But if Michelle Payne walks along and Prince of Penzance is there, does the horse "know" her?
10 daily put that question to Payne this week at the launch of the Lexus Melbourne Cup tour -- when the Cup travels around Australia and beyond -- ahead of the big race on November 5, which will be broadcast on Network 10.
"I would like to hope so," Payne said. "I always felt like he recognised my voice every time I rode him."
Payne only sees Prince of Penzance occasionally these days. The gelding spends his time on the Living Legends farm where numerous famous thoroughbreds reside, and he also does assorted charity appearances.
Meanwhile, Australia's most famous female jockey is still riding, but not so much these days. Her main duties are training the small team she keeps in work at Ballarat, where she lives.
"I'm really focused on training and I love transforming into a different role. I'm still riding in races as well but not as much, and I really love the thrill of riding my own horse in a race."
We couldn't resist asking Payne an obvious question at this point. If she rides a shocker on one of her own horses, does the trainer have stern words with the jockey?
"I don't tend to do that," she laughed.
Network 10 is the official broadcaster of the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival.