The older brother of Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne has emerged in a bid to quieten the war of words reverberating around the Australian racing industry.
Just 24 hours after Michelle Payne expressed her disappointment at seemingly being replaced as the rider of Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance, brother Patrick maintains there are two sides to the story.
Payne, 41, a former champion jockey, said he’d spoken to his sister who was in good cheer following the events of the past three days.
“I think we should all just stop and take a breath,” he said. “I feel pretty terrible because I asked her to come to Mildura and ride my horse and history now shows it left her in hospital having surgery.
“I feel guilty for even thinking of bringing her to Mildura and, look, at the end of the day, the owners of Prince Of Penzance, I think, would be terribly worried that somewhere along the line she could be injured again.
“And these people would be not unlike anyone else; they would be devastated,” he said.
At 31, Michelle Payne is the only woman to ever ride the winner of the $6 million Melbourne Cup. But Payne has told his sister to “move on”.
“We’re all going to have disappointments like this but we can’t dwell on it.
“And I know Michelle’s hurting, but she’s put huge hours into Prince Of Penzance in building him into the racehorse that he is today. And I am sure that’s a source of great disappointment and that’s damn hard to get over, but she’s got to get over it.
“We’re all independent in our family and I don’t interfere with her business, but I just hope by me speaking up, things can calm down and wiser heads prevail,” he said.
Patrick Payne’s comments come as Michelle Payne’s medical advisers clear her to commence riding as soon as the next three weeks. And Victorian Racing Jockeys Association sports medicine doctor Gary Zimmerman confirmed to Fairfax Media that Payne was “ready to go”.
Zimmerman said he had examined Payne and was happy with how she had emerged from her surgery 2½ months ago following her race fall.
“She looks great; she’s worked hard during her time out of the saddle. It’s just a matter of her gathering fitness, but she’s very keen and I’ve ticked her off at 100 per cent.
“Michelle Payne is great for racing and even a better ambassador for women in sport,” Zimmerman said.
And Zimmerman, who is also the Western Bulldogs club doctor, said that more importantly, surgeons at the Alfred Hospital who had monitored her condition were more than happy with her health.
“I’ve ticked her off and the surgeons at the Alfred, which is very important, believe she’s good to go so I think with a ride or two in trials she can get her licence back and be riding pretty quickly,” he said.