Today was the running of the Melbourne Cup. Cup Day is a big deal here. It’s a public holiday and hundreds of thousands of people go to the races. Horses are flown in from all over the world.
Today, an outsider called Prince of Penzance won, at 100-1 odds. The horse was ridden by Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Cup in its 154-year history. Michelle’s brother, Stevie, a young man with Down’s Syndrome, was the horse’s strapper.
Australia’s been riveted by the story since the horse crossed the finish line this afternoon. And it keeps getting better. In tonight’s news, it was revealed Michelle is the youngest of 10 children, and that her mother died when she was six months old. Her father raised all 10 children by himself. To cap it off, when she accepted the trophy, she talked about those who had wanted to drop her as the rider because she was a woman. She cheerfully said they could “get stuffed”.
She even looks and sounds a little like Velvet Brown.
What a fairytale! Here’s what she said this afternoon:
“To think that Darren Weir has given me a go and it’s such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners were keen to kick me off, and John Richards and Darren stuck strongly with me, and I put in all the effort I could and galloped him all I could because I thought he had what it takes to win the Melbourne Cup and I can’t say how grateful I am to them … I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world … This is everybody’s dream as a jockey in Australia and now probably the world. And I dreamt about it from when I was five years old and there is an interview from my school friends, they were teasing me about, when I was about seven, and I said, ‘I’m going to win the Melbourne Cup’ and they always give me a bit of grief about it and I can’t believe we’ve done it.”