JOCKEY Michelle Payne has revealed she feared the worst in the moments immediately after her horror fall at Donald on Sunday.
The 26-year-old was left with five fractured vertebrae and a couple of broken ribs when her mount El Divine, trained by Darren Weir, knuckled at the start and tipped her from the saddle.
It was at this point, lying on the turf, that Payne’s heart sank.
“When I first fell I didn’t think I could move my legs and I was really worried,” she told
“After it felt like a couple of minutes I could wiggle my feet and that was such a relief.”
Payne was rushed to a local hospital in Donald, before being transported to the Ballarat Base for further observations. She was released and spent the night with father Paddy in Ballarat, then returned to Melbourne yesterday.
Doctors have advised Payne, who also has a fat lip and some facial bruising, that the fractures in her back are stable, and the best mode of recovery is rest.
“I can get from A to B, but really slowly. I’m doing as least movement as possible because it’s really painful,” she said.
“It’s pretty serious. It’s the spine and that’s a scary thought, but it’s not too hard, it just a bit painful getting around. I just feel lucky that it wasn’t worse.”
Payne, who is aiming for a racetrack return before the start of spring, rated the fall as one of the worst of her career. She fractured her skull in an accident in 2004, and sustained a minor neck fracture early last year.
“(Last year) was really scary because it was so close to my artery and was in a bad spot.
‘‘Those two were the most serious I’ve had.
‘‘This one comes behind them two,” she said.
Sunday’s fall has cost Payne the chance to ride Andrew Noblet-trained Sistine Angel in the upcoming Tiara at Eagle Farm, a race she won last year aboard Yosei. That victory was her third group 1 success aboard the mare, who also won the Sires Produce Stakes and Thousand Guineas in 2010.
Payne won her only other race at the top level on Bart Cummings’ Allez Wonder in the 2009 Toorak Handicap. The injuries also mean she will not travel to Berlin next month to ride in a race for Arabian horses, which she was invited to attend.