Michelle Payne, First Female Jockey To Win Melbourne Cup, Has A Brother With Downs Syndrome
Readers, disability is everywhere- even at the Melbourne Cup!
By the Flemington Racecourse track on Tuesday – ecstatically celebrating her win – was Michelle’s brother, Steven.
He has worked as a strapper at the Darren Weir stables where Michelle trains for a decade, grooming, tacking and generally caring for the horses, and is regarded in racing circles as one of the best in the business.
Stephen Payne also has Down’s syndrome, but Mr Weir told ABC News ahead of the race that this was no hindrance to his role.
“He can follow the work sheet, he can saddle them up, he can swim them, hose them, and he’s got a great rapport with horses,” he said.
“He’s really enjoyable to have around, and I think it’s important for those sorts of kids to get a go at something, and if they get a go they reward you.”
Michelle Payne said her brother was a good role model for others with Down’s, “to see how capable they can be in normal life”.
“Stevie can pretty much do anything, and look after himself when he’s on his own.”
As for being the first woman to grasp the Melbourne Cup title – on only her second attempt – Michelle wasted no time making her point about the role of women in sport.
“It’s such a chauvinistic sport,” she said in a trackside interview, saying even some of Prince of Penzance’s owners had not wanted her to ride him in the race.
“I want to say to everyone else, ‘get stuffed’, because women can do anything and we can beat the world.”
On the winner’s podium, she thanks her family and horse trainer Darren Weir, but reserved special thanks for Steven.
“So excited that I could get the job done for him today. So thank you very much. It’s just unbelievable.”
Same Difference sends sincere congratulations and best wishes to Michelle Payne. We love anyone who can break down a barrier caused by attitudes and outdated traditions, and she has clearly done that for female jockeys.