Ballarat racing royalty Michelle Payne is set to compete at her hometown cup meeting, but is still chasing a ride in the day’s feature race.
The Melbourne Cup-winning jockey rode Luke Oliver-trained galloper Majestueux in Thursday morning’s Magic Millions 2YO Clockwise Classic trials and is keen to secure the booking on the filly for the $200,000 sprint on Saturday, November 19.
Run against the traditional way-of-going in Victoria, the Classic has quickly become one of the highlights of the Ballarat Cup program.
Majestueux finished a nice third in the trial on Thursday.
When asked if she would ride the horse in the race, Payne said: “I hope so”.
Payne is currently without a confirmed mount for the $300,000 Ballarat Cup, which she rode in last year aboard Darren Weir-trained Akzar.
That was just weeks after partnering Weir’s Prince of Penzance to a historic victory in the Melbourne Cup.
Payne said the Ballarat feature is a “very special” race and is hoping to be part of it in 2016.
“I definitely want (a ride), but I haven’t got one yet,” she said.
Payne also expressed her disappointment at not being able to saddle up a starter at the meeting.
The 31-year-old now holds a dual trainer/jockey licence and has two registered horses under her training operation. One of those is Duke of Nottingham, who finished fifth on debut in Ballarat on October 31.
“I really wanted to find a race for him Ballarat Cup day, but he’s still a maiden and there wasn’t anything suitable,” she said.
Payne said her comeback from a bad race fall in May – she required pancreatic surgery and spent many days in hospital – had been tough.
“The toughest fall I've come back from because I didn't know anyone to speak to about the injury. No one's really had that happen before,” she said.
“My pancreas split in half and organs were damaged and I was a bit battered and bruised. It was very painful initially.
“To come back from it, I couldn't just go back into training like I did after other falls I've had. I had to let it heal and give and take a bit, but also get back as fit as I could for the spring carnival.”
Payne has been back riding since September and claimed a memorable victory on Oaks day aboard Henry Dwyer-trained Tavi Bay.
That success means Payne has won a race on each of the four days of the Flemington carnival.
In total, she has won five races since returning from the accidents, including the Coleraine Cup with Oliver-trained Birds of Tokyo.
Payne told The Courier the 12 months since winning the nation’s greatest race has been an exciting ride.
“Sometimes it seems like I’ll wake up and it would have been a dream and I’d believe that,” she said.
“The things I’ve been able to experience and people I’ve been able to meet, you couldn’t even dream about it so it has definitely been an amazing year, but a lot of fun.
“It has not all been easy, but you’ve got to take the good with the bad.”
Payne is the ambassador of the Ballarat Cup, which is again being held as the main Victoria Saturday meeting this year.
A 10-race card is scheduled, with acceptances available next Wednesday.
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