Michelle Payne’s Royal Ascot dream on hold

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne’s dream of riding at Royal Ascot is over while she recovers from surgery.

Payne will not ride again for a number of weeks after undergoing surgery to her abdomen following a race fall.

The 30-year-old had been eyeing the international stage after creating history when she became the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup in November aboard 100-1 shot Prince Of Penzance.

But her international riding engagements are on now on hold, Victorian Jockeys Association CEO Des O’Keeffe said.

Payne sounded “pretty knocked around” after her fall and would be feeling mixed emotions, he said.

“I’m sure she’ll have mixed feelings – realising it could have been a lot worse and happy with the outcome that’s there, but also bitterly disappointed given the amount of work she’s been doing.”

Payne had hoped to get rides at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting in June during a two-month stay in Europe.

Her Melbourne Cup win had already scored her an invitation to the Shergar Cup international jockeys challenge as part of “Girls Team” on August 6 at Ascot.

Payne also planned to ride in a female jockeys’ race in Sweden.

She will spend at least the next week in Melbourne’s The Alfred hospital, where she is in a serious but stable condition after successful surgery to her abdomen on Tuesday.

It will take several weeks for her to recover from the surgery which followed a fall in a race at Mildura on Monday.


Payne was initially treated at the local hospital before being transferred to Melbourne on Monday night, after telling doctors she was in acute pain.

Doctors conducted a number of scans on Tuesday before deciding surgery was the best option, O’Keeffe said.

“That surgery has gone well, successful, and hopefully the recovery from a very fit young athlete starts really well tonight,” he said.

He 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.

“Any fall from a horse at 60km/h is a really tricky outcome,” he told reporters.

“It looked reasonably innocuous at the time but unfortunately it’s ended up significantly more serious than that, but luckily in the hands that she’s in, hopefully the recovery will be complete and full given the amount of time it will take.”

How long Payne would have to sit out from racing would be determined over the next several weeks, based on medical advice.

Payne tweeted on Monday night that she was having her pancreas and liver checked, with an accompanying photo showing a deep line across the top of her abdomen.

O’Keeffe said doctors had not specified to racing officials what the surgery to her abdomen involved.

Payne’s 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.

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