Michelle Payne faces weeks of recovery

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne is set to miss the rest of the season, including international rides, as she recovers from surgery.

Payne will remain in a Melbourne hospital for at least the next week after surgery to her abdomen, which followed a race fall at Mildura on Monday.

It will take a number of weeks for her to fully recover, Victorian Jockeys Association CEO Des O’Keeffe says.

Payne was in a serious but stable condition late on Tuesday, and was heavily sedated.

Doctors told her family the operation on her abdomen was successful, O’Keeffe said.

Payne tweeted on Monday night that she was having her pancreas and liver checked.

Doctors decided surgery was the best option to ensure her recovery was as complete as possible, O’Keeffe said.


O’Keeffe said Payne was lucky not to have been more seriously injured in the fall from Dutch Courage, trained by her brother Patrick Payne, in a 1000m-race.

The 30-year-old became the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup in November aboard 100-1 shot Prince Of Penzance, which scored her an invitation to the Shergar Cup international jockeys challenge as part of “Girls Team” on August 6 at Ascot.

She had hoped to get rides at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting in June during a two-month stay in Europe, and also planned to ride in a female jockeys’ race in Sweden.

“The workload that she’s undertaken as an ambassador for our industry since winning the Melbourne Cup has been nothing short of staggering, and I know how much she was looking forward to June and July as a little bit of a breather away from the spotlight of racing here,” O’Keeffe said.

Payne is the youngest of 10 children, seven of whom became jockeys.

Her family tried to convince her to give up riding after a March 2004 fall that left her with a fractured skull and bruising to her brain.

In 2012 she broke four vertebrae and several ribs in another fall, but Payne has said she always maintained a positive attitude.

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