3 November 2015

Melbourne Cup 2015: Our Cup runneth over...

Held under the dark clouds of drugs, corruption and drive-by shootings, this year's Melbourne Cup turned out to be even beyond the horses. A history-making winner and her family showed us racing's capacity to be inclusive, accepting and empowering, writes Michael Hutak.

Did the Australian turf just get the shot in the arm it so desperately needs? Racing showed its human face this afternoon, as Michelle Payne became the first woman to ride the winner of racing's godhead, when she saluted on Prince of Penzance with one of the great the Melbourne Cup rides. In a complete boilover, bookies got the lot as the 100-1 outsider from the bush overcame the world's best thoroughbreds to write the proverbial fairytale in this 155th running of the event.

But it wasn't the race that won the crowd's heart; it was what happened directly after, as Payne and Prince of Penzance were led back to scale by the horse's strapper, her brother "Stevie". The joyous display by Steven, who has Down's syndrome, leading his history-making sister back to scale, were indelible images of a racing game that despite all the problems it faces, has a capacity to be inclusive, accepting, and empowering.