Melbourne Cup heroine Payne celebrates landmark triumph as trainer
Michelle Payne said her maiden metropolitan triumph as a trainer with emerging three-year-old Sweet Rockette at The Valley was comparable to her history-making Melbourne Cup win.
The daughter of Fastnet Rock nabbed raging favourite Multaja in the final stride to win the $120,000 MSC Signs Plate (1200m) on Saturday, delivering Payne her biggest scalp since taking out a dual-licence to ride and train in August 2016.
Adding to the emotion of the win was the fact the all-female ownership group that races the filly includes Payne's sister Maree, close friend and champion surfer Layne Beachley, many childhood friends and several figures behind the soon-to-be-released movie on the jockey's 2015 Melbourne Cup win, including director Rachael Griffiths and producer Susie Montague.
"This is my first one (city win as a trainer) so it's a nice way to do it," Payne said.
"The Melbourne Cup is obviously the pinnacle but this is right up there with anything.
"We've done all the work at home with her and I've got an amazing team so it makes it very special."
Payne explained that Sweet Rockette was initially passed in at the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sale, but was later purchased for $185,000 with the support of Montague.
The filly was a beaten favourite on debut at Ladbrokes Park in June but Payne said she'd made solid physical and mental improvement since.
"I was in love with her when I saw her, I thought we'd never get her," Payne said.
"I ran into Susie (Montague) at the sale and I told her how much I love this filly.
"She was passed in but Susie rang me two minutes after she'd been passed in and said we had to get her and said she's put up 50 per cent.
"It's so good to have Maree (Payne) involved and all my school friends have a share and some other really great women."
Sweet Rockette is unlikely to progress towards the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) this spring, with Payne suggesting January's lucrative Magic Millions Guineas (1400m) was a more realistic target.
"I don't think I'd be ready to train her for the mile this time around," she said.
"I think she'll be a great sprinting filly for the future so if we look after her we'll have a horse for years down the track.
"Possibly the Gold Coast Magic Millions (could be a target), by that time around she might be ready for 1400m."
Dwayne Dunn said Multaja - who began well but was forced to absorb significant pressure on the speed - had still run well and would improve next start when ridden with cover.
"She began too quick today and put me in a very sticky spot and I had to go up outside the leader, which wasn't ideal," Dunn said.
"I thought she was very brave to even run second.
"She's got a killer punch with a little bit of cover and unfortunately that didn't happen today."
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