Racing icon Michelle Payne takes the reins as 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival ambassador

24 October 2021 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) has announced national icon and the first and only female jockey to win the Lexus Melbourne Cup, Michelle Payne OAM, as a 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassador.

Michelle’s remarkable story lifted the spirits of a nation in 2015 when she achieved every jockey’s dream by riding 100 to 1 chance Prince of Penzance to victory in the Lexus Melbourne Cup which later inspired the successful motion picture Ride Like a Girl.

The historic win catapulted her onto the world stage, where she has won multiple awards including receiving an Order of Australia for her services to the racing industry in 2020.

After growing up in a racing family, Michelle found herself in the saddle as a child and started riding competitively as a jockey at 15-years-old.

As well as continuing to ride, Michelle is also an emerging trainer who operates from bases in Ballarat and on the Sunshine Coast, where every horse has her undivided care and attention. She is also an expert racing commentator on Network 10’s Melbourne Cup Carnival coverage and a champion for Rehab4Rehab, an inspiring equine therapy organisation which brings vulnerable children and thoroughbreds together.

Michelle said the Melbourne Cup Carnival holds a special place in her heart. 

“Some of my greatest memories are from Cup Week, including the special moments immediately after my Cup win in 2015 with my brother Stevie,” Michelle said.

“It’s such an incredible time of the year and what I love most is that it’s for everyone, and our country has never been more deserving of an event that brings people together through sport, fashion and entertainment.

“From an early age, I knew I was destined for a world surrounded by horses and at four years old I declared it my dream to one day win a Melbourne Cup. It’s amazing to think that dream came true in 2015!

“I am delighted that I can continue to tell my story and share my love for the sport in this new role with the Victoria Racing Club.”

Michelle is also an ambassador for My Room, which aims to raise funds to find a cure for cancer in young children.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said the club was thrilled to officially welcome Michelle to the Flemington family for 2021.

“Michelle’s story is one for the ages, and her passion and experience in the racing industry is exceptional for someone of her young age,” Mr Rosich said.

“She is a source of inspiration for many, young and old, across Australia and globally, and we look forward to celebrating her achievements as part of this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival and watching her on Network 10’s broadcast as their expert racing commentator.”

Michelle will join the VRC’s stable of ambassadors for the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival including Gai Waterhouse, Delta Goodrem, Ariarne Titmus, Christian Petracca, Ollie Wines, Emma Booth, Amanda Ross, Emma and Tom Hawkins, Tayla Damir, Tim Kano and Crystal Kimber.

The 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks off with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 30 October, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday 2 November, Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 4 November and Paramount+ Stakes Day on Saturday 7 November.

Revel in Cup Week with the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival broadcast live and free on Network 10 and streamed on 10 Play.