Michelle Payne has become the first female jockey to win Australia’s Melbourne Cup, the most prestigious horse race in the country.
Riding her horse, 100-1 outsider the Prince of Penzance, Payne grabbed victory at the 154-year-old event and rocked the racing world by beating Champion jockey Frankie Dettori.
As she came off the course in Victoria, she told the waiting media, “I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world.”
“It’s such a chauvinistic sport, a lot of the owners wanted to kick me off.
“It’s a very male-dominated sport and people think we [women] are not strong enough and all of the rest of it, but it’s not all about strength.”
Equality in horse racing is an issue across many of the leading countries who champion this sport, including the UK.
British Racing School coach, Michael Tebbutt once apologised for comments he made about the strength of women jockeys.
The closest a female jockey has come to winning the UK’s Aintree Grand National was in 2012 when Katie Walsh managed to finish third on Seabass. But there were no female jockeys in the 2014 Epsom derby.
However the British Horseracing Authority insists there is no inequality in the sport, saying: “Racing is one of the few sports where men and women compete on equal footing.”
But it seems that either by coincidence or a nod to feminism, Michelle Payne’s colours seem tie in nicely with her win as she raced in purple, white, and green – the colours of the suffragettes (Women’s Social and Political Union)
Purple symbolised dignity, white was for purity, and green represented hope.
Owners of the Prince of Penzance will be very happy with the race results and for backing their female jockey, after the horse cost the just $50,000 (£25,000), they will take home almost $3.6m (£1.7m) in prize money.