Michelle Payne has even more incentive to get race-fit with the ride on Azkadellia at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in Santa Anita on the line.
Payne made history when she won the Melbourne Cup on Prince Of Penzance but was upset last week when she was told she would not be riding him when he made his spring return later this month.
Managing owner John Richards added fuel to the fire saying he believed she should retire after a serious injury which has kept her away from race riding since May.
She has made a rapid recovery from pancreatic surgery and has been passed fit by Racing Victoria’s medical officer and the doctors who operated on her.
Payne has yet to resume riding but Azkadellia’s owner Ben Connolly, who is also racing manager for the mare’s trainer Ciaron Maher, said she was the jockey of choice if Azkadellia takes her place at Santa Anita in November.
Azkadellia’s win in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes in April gained her automatic entry to the Breeders’ Cup Turf for fillies and mares.
Connolly said both jockey and horse had to prove they were fit to make the trip to America.
“The Aussie spirit is to never give up, and give a mate a hand up and a fair go,” Connolly said.
“She is a true Aussie battler made good, and I’ll back her to the ends of the earth to do us proud again.
“I understand some in the industry may disagree with me, but I am not talking about putting an unprepared, unfit or unhealthy Michelle Payne on the horse.
“She has to get herself back to the level she was at when she won the Melbourne Cup, and remain healthy both physically and mentally.”
Azkadellia is scheduled to make her return in September while Payne has been riding trackwork over the past couple of weeks in preparation for a return to the races.