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Payne OAM

National Icon & the First female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.

You’ve got to dream big and that’s what I’m doing.

Michelle Payne is one of Australia’s most sought-after media and racing personalities who became a national icon when she captured the hearts of a nation after winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup on the 100 to 1 priced Prince of Penzance.

The first and only female to win the event, Michelle’s triumph catapulted her into stardom where she is now a highly successful trainer, jockey and author.

Growing up on a farm at Miners Rest, near Ballarat in Central Victoria, Michelle is the youngest daughter of the ten children of Paddy and Mary Payne. Tragically, Michelle’s mother Mary died in a motor vehicle accident when Michelle was only six months old.

Being born into a racing family, a career in the saddle always beckoned Michelle, and she followed seven of her brothers and sisters when she rode in her first competitive race at just 15.

Michelle’s career hasn’t been without challenges. In March 2004 at the age of 18, Michelle was pulling up her mount Vladivostok, having just finished 11th in the Torbek Handicap at Sandown. 100 metres past the winning post the horse fell suddenly, sending Michelle headfirst into the turf. The incident left Michelle with a fractured skull and bruising to her brain.

Michelle suffered another two serious falls in 2012 and in May 2016, just months after winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup when she suffered yet another life-threatening fall at Mildura. This time Michelle required pancreatic surgery and a long recovery, before yet another inspiring comeback to racing.

In 2016, Michelle was awarded the highly coveted Don Prize for Most Inspirational Australian Athlete at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Awards. That same year she also won Sportswoman of the Year for the Cosmopolitan Magazine Awards and the Women of Style: Sport Award for InStyle Magazine. Michelle and her brother Stephen were also given the honour of being named Queen and King of Moomba.

In 2017, Michelle received The International Longines Ladies Awards in Washington celebrating women who have consistently achieved at the highest level within the equestrian world, and in 2022 this year was awarded the Order of Australia medal (OAM) for services to horse racing.

Michelle released her first book, Life As I Know It in 2016 which remained among the top 10 bestselling books in the country for six months after its release.

In 2019, Michelle’s inspiring story made its way to the big screen as the major motion picture Ride Like A Girl. It was the highest-grossing Australian film that year.

In 2021 her victory was voted by the public as the most significant Sport Australia Hall of Fame moment from a shortlist of 20 outstanding sporting moments over the past 60 years.

Michelle now runs a very successful training facility, Nottingham Farm, Ballarat and has recently expanded to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

On behalf of the Victoria Police Amateur Sports & Welfare Society (VPAS&WS) Executive, I wish to let you know what an absolute delight it was to have Michelle attend our evening. I had heard some great remarks about her being such a genuine, humble and gracious person, and am pleased to say she was this and much more. Her attitude to life, living and helping others is exceptional. It is no wonder that people see her as inspirational, courageous and a true leader in her field. Her quiet, thoughtful, engaging and appreciative manner had the audience in the palm of her hand… and her honesty is something to behold. Victoria Police Amateur Sports & Welfare Society Executive

I think I’m safe to say that the 8th Parkin Oration will be remembered as a very special evening with a very special person. While you are justifiably renown, even revered, for being the first female jockey to win the internationally coveted Melbourne Cup, as we have had the privilege to hear tonight, there is so much more to your story than those three-and-a-half minutes. While we too stand in awe of your ability to out-perform the very best, on the very biggest of stages, it is your resilience, humility, compassion, determination and grace that compel us.

Deakin University - Parkin Oration

Michelle was absolutely perfect for the tone of the event. Michelle was engaging, open and really brought to life her personal stories that aligned with the other speakers on the panel. Michelle's involvement ticked the boxes of what we wanted to achieve from the event, which was to elevate and position the event to a higher level and speak to a captive audience of C Suite female leaders.


Michelle was a delight at our event. Her content was engaging, humorous and emotive. She was incredibly easy-going and so willing to participate and mingle with our attendees. She went over and above with photo opps and audience interaction. Absolutely exceeded our expectations.

Marnong Estate Pty Ltd

We knew she would be inspirational; she was so much more. Michelle Payne's interview with Richard Morecroft at Engineers Australia #iwd2023 Sydney event today was authentic, insightful and heart-warming. Michelle won the Melbourne Cup as only the 6th woman who had raced in its 155 year history in 2015. Over her career she raced over 7,000 times winning over 700 races. She reminded us the importance of giving it a go, dusting yourself off, pushing through, having grit, resilience, determination and persistence. You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke, many an attendee said they had tears with some of her answers. Such as "I felt like my victory (at the Melbourne Cup) was for all of the women who had come before me." and "my Dad use to say, the girls are just as good as the boys, they just need the opportunities."

Engineers Australia
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