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Jessica Payne scored her first city winner as a senior jockey

Since graduating to senior ranks Jessica Payne hasn’t been afforded many opportunities in the metropolitan area.

The Cranbourne-based jockey made the journey to Sandown on Wednesday for one ride on the Richard Laming-trained Ashlee Marie in the Resimax Handicap.

Payne produced a gem and it landed the 25 year-old her first city winner since completing her apprenticeship in January.

It was also her first success in town since the long-priced win of My Survivor at Flemington in December.

“It’s a great thrill, but I’m really grateful to Richie for sticking with me,” Payne said.

“I guess hard work does pay off.”

Payne says gaining experience as a senior jockey has improved her riding in recent months and she’s not getting over-awed riding against Craig Williams, Damien Oliver and Dwayne Dunn.

“I’m improving everytime I go around and I’m more relaxed with my riding too,” Payne said.

“That makes it a little bit easier as you trust your judgement and the decisions you make.”

Payne says she’s grateful for the support of those around the Cranbourne area while she still travels to her old stomping ground in the north-east Victoria where she still has the support of former master Wayne Nichols.

“Importantly you need a good stable with the cattle behind you to make it,” she said.

Payne entered Wednesday’s race confident Ashlee Marie was ready for the 1600m journey following two runs back from a spell.

Laming said Payne was rewarded for her hard work with his stable.

“She rode the horse superb,” Laming said.

“She listened to instructions, rode her own race and it paid off.

“She’s at the stable most mornings riding trackwork and trials so it’s good for her to get a winner in town.”

Apprentice Beau Mertens held onto his one -in lead over Craig Williams in the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership race.

They each rode one winner.

Williams struck first aboard Sayed in the Clanbrooke Racing Handicap while Mertens won with Don’tbabylon in the Ladbrokes Up For The Challenge Handicap.

The Lindsay Park stable was left stranded on 99 city winners for the year after Invictum Domina was its sole winner for the meeting in the Heritage Finance Handicap.

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