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Even 2nd last, Payne makes history

A year after winning the Melbourne Cup, Michelle Payne has again made history at Flemington.

Payne is the first person in Victoria to ride a runner she trains at Group level.

A run in the $1 million VRC Oaks on Thursday may still be on the cards for Payne and Queen of Zealand, despite the filly finishing second last in the Group Two Wakeful Stakes.

Payne will wait to see how Queen of Zealand recovers from Saturday’s race before deciding if she will run in the Group One race.

“We’ll see how she pulls up and if she does go to the Oaks we’ll probably leave the ear muffs on her, which she wears to the barriers, but I think it will help her settle in the race.

“I certainly hope she’s got a run in the Oaks because if she relaxes that would be the perfect recipe, so we’ll just see how she goes.”

Queen of Zealand was a bit too keen in her second start for Payne, her fourth overall career start.

“She ran a reasonable race,” Payne said.

“She just over-raced early.”

The Wakeful Stakes was won by Tiamo Grace, a filly trained by Darren Weir.

Payne and Weir took Prince of Penzance to Melbourne Cup glory last year.

Payne was one of the first in Victoria to take out a dual licence when they came in this season.

“I’ve obviously planned for a long time – years and years of watching trainers and learning and obviously riding. That’s what I love.

“Working with horses is a passion for me and it’s not a job.”

To have the first horse she has trained run in a Group Two in only her second race was “unbelievable”.

“You have to aim high and follow your dreams and that’s what I have always done.”

Payne was the only female jockey with a ride on Derby Day, one of the most prestigious days in Australia’s racing calendar.

She does not have a ride in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, a year after making history by becoming the first female jockey to win the $6.2 million race.

“You actually couldn’t believe how much a race could change your life – it’s basically changed it in every way,” she said.

“You can’t really go anywhere without people wanting to grab a photo or being recognised.”

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