Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne’s return getting closer

Michelle Payne says it will be hard to watch someone else ride Prince Of Penzance in the Memsie Stakes but admits she is not at full fitness

She is happy for Harry Coffey to partner the horse she rode to win last year’s Melbourne Cup as he starts his defence in the Group One race at Caulfield on Saturday.

Payne is getting close to a return but whether that is as a full time jockey or as the rider of horses she trains herself is still playing on her mind.

She hopes to find out on Thursday whether she has been granted a trainer’s licence.

Payne has been back riding trackwork for around eight weeks since recovering from pancreatic surgery suffered in a fall at Mildura in May.

“I will come back to riding but whether that’s to ride my own horses or come back full-time I haven’t decided yet,” Payne told Melbourne radio station RSN927.

“I’ve got two unraced four-year-olds. They’re nothing flash but at least they’re giving me something to muck around with.

“I’m really keen to give it a good go and I think it would be awesome to train your own and then ride them in races.”

Payne has been riding horses in trackwork for Darren Weir, including Prince Of Penzance, and says her fitness is improving by the day.

“I rode one for Darren (Weir) on Tuesday that went quite well and asked him if I could ride that and he was thinking about it a tiny bit,” Payne said.

“But I just struggled to get through the morning which might have put him off a little bit.”

Payne says she’s hopeful rather than confident she will be reunited with Prince Of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup.

She realised she was rushing her attempt to get back to ride the stayer but says Prince Of Penzance is thriving and she is hoping he runs well for the owners.

“If I’m riding and riding in good form maybe they’ll be happy to put me back on.

“I’m really happy to see Harry on him on Saturday. Harry’s always there doing trials and I’d be absolutely rapt if he ran well for Harry.”


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