2015 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne is on the verge of giving up race day riding.
The outspoken Payne has created a plenty of controversy since becoming the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, but after a series of life-threatening injuries, Payne could be calling it quits.
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The 32-year-old holds a trainer/jockey license, but she told the Herald Sun that 2018 could well be her last year in the saddle.
“2018 is about being back in charge and doing what I love and really enjoying it,” Payne said.
“I only have a short time left, I think, to be riding.
“I have had a lot of bad injuries and I don’t want to push my luck for too much longer, so it seems reasonable to make this my final year, probably, and then I would be able to concentrate fully on training.”
Payne did state that she would like to continue riding until the end of the calendar year, barring any injuries.
“Definitely, I think that will happen. Hopefully I’ll be injury free, but I will take it as it comes and see what happens,” she said.
Becoming a trainer was a natural progression for the career horsewoman and she’s looking forward to the challenges being a trainer in Victoria presents.
“It is something I have been planning to do for the last seven or eight years and I am really passionate about it,” Payne said.
“If you can’t do racing as a jockey training is the next best thing, maybe even better, because you are working with these horses from the start with most of them and really building that relationship with them every day.
“It is a really special bond and a challenge to take on because every horse is so different and I just love that.”
Since winning with Prince of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup, Payne has flown around the world for various media commitments, which were often seen as a detriment to her career as a jockey.
Despite the criticism, Payne has come through the other side and has since been asked to carry the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton in Canberra on Australia Day as a part of the relay.
“I am a really proud Australian, so to be able to be part of the Commonwealth Games baton relay is so special. I am very grateful for opportunities like this,” said Payne, who is also getting a movie made about her.
Casting calls were made for a young girl to portray Payne in an upcoming movie titled Ride Like A Girl, with the role going to Teresa Palmer.
Payne has texted Palmer, but looks forward to meeting the budding actress in person.
“We have spoken via text message and I am really looking forward to meeting her,” she said.