Prince Of Penzance scored the unlikeliest of victories in the Emirates Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) Nov. 3 at Flemington, as the 100-1 shot carried the first female jockey to victory in the history of Australia’s most famous race.
Michelle Payne Makes Melbourne Cup History
A crowd of 101,015 watched a fairy tale unfold as the 24-horse field bunched up on the home turn and an opening appeared for Michelle Payne and Prince Of Penzance. Bursting from midfield, the 6-year-old Pentire gelding came running down the outside, moving fastest of all to threaten the leaders at the 300 meter mark. With Payne whipping and driving furiously toward glory, the duo snatched the lead before the 100-meter mark.
The win was not yet secured as runner-up Max Dynamite, who began his mighty pursuit in the final furlong, closed in a thrilling finish. But he could not get to the winner, who secured a half-length triumph. Criterion was third, 1 1/4 lengths back.
Race favorite Fame Game was sight unseen at the finish after going wide on the home turn and then unable to stay the distance, finishing 13th.
Max Dynamite’s rider, Frankie Dettori, was slapped with an AUS $20,000 fine and a one-month suspension for careless riding. He was deemed to have ridden his mount into the path of Grand Marshall, nearly knocking Jim Cassidy out of the saddle just past the quarter-mile mark. Dettori was apologetic and said he believed the incident was out of his control.
Prince Of Penzance’s time for 3,200 meters (about two miles) was 3:23.15. The victory in the Melbourne Cup, which carried a US $4.4 million purse, marked his first at the top level following his Oct. 24 runner-up effort in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (Aus-II), a race he won last year.
Payne, known for her iron nerve and keen judge of pace, had ridden Prince of Penzance in 22 of his previous 23 starts for trainer Darren Weir and has won seven races with him. She always believed he could win a Melbourne Cup and he proved up to the task as one of the longest-priced winners in the race’s 155-year history.
“I’ve got such respect for him because he is so tough,” Payne said in a post-race interview, www.abc.net.au reported. “I thought if ever a horse is going to win the Melbourne Cup, it’s going to be him.
“I know the inner strength that he has. What he’s done in some of the races, even when he hasn’t won… to finish off like he does, I think this horse is incredible. Being the jockey I could feel that more than people could see. I said to Darren about two weeks ago, ‘He’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden, I think he can win the Cup’.”
Impending celebrations were dampened when sentimental Melbourne Cup favorite, three-time runner-up Red Cadeaux, broke down nearing the finish line with Gerald Mosse while making his fifth appearance in the race.
The 9-year-old Cadeaux Genereux gelding, trained by British-based Ed Dunlop for Hong Kong businessman Ron Arculli, was able to walk to an ambulance and then was transported a Werribee clinic. Racing Victoria veterinarians said Red Cadeaux sustained medial sesamoid fracture in his left front fetlock, a career-ending injury.
“I thought he was going to be put down,” Dunlop told the Sydney Morning Herald about his earner of more than US $7.8 million. “At this stage he hasn’t. Obviously he’s immediately retired.
“He’s in great hands and we will do whatever is best for the horse. It’s a bad injury, but it should be repairable.”
Cadeaux Genereux’s stablemate, 2015 Gold Cup (Eng-I) victor and Caulfield Cup (Aus-I) runner-up Trip To Paris finished fourth.
Prince Of Penzance was bred in New Zealand by Rich Hill Farm and Katsumi Yoshida of Japan’s Northern Farm. He was produced by the unplaced Mr. Prospector mare Royal Successor, a $500,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Yoshida. Second dam Only Royale was a two-time winner of the Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I).
Sent through ring at the 2011 New Zealand Bloodstock premier yearling sale at Karaka he was knocked down to the NZ $50,000 ($38,601) bid of Queensland bloodstock agent John Foote.
Prince Of Penzance is campaigned by a large ownership group, which includes John Richards, who along with Weir supported Payne when several co-owners wanted to replace her with male jockey for the Melbourne Cup.
With much of the racing world listening following Tuesday’s upset, Payne took the opportunity to call out the sport as “chauvinistic.”
“I just wanted to say that everyone else ‘get stuffed,’ because they think women aren’t strong enough—but we just beat the world,” she said.
Perhaps no one is prouder of Payne than older brother, groom Steven Payne, who has Down Syndrome and has worked for Weir’s Ballarat stables nearly 10 years. He picked post 1 for the winner at last week’s post-position draw, delighting his sister.
“It’s just great that he’s been able to share this experience with me,” Michelle Payne said, “because growing up we were always so much closer being the two youngest of 10, we were often left to go and play on our own and it’s just amazing to be able to share that with him.”