Much has been written about Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the coveted Melbourne Cup in 2015. Overnight, this extraordinary woman became a hero on many levels – for women, for her family and for her home town of Miner’s Rest, near Ballarat. Now she is the hero, of a new movie Ride Like a Girl. This is the directorial debut of award winning actor, Rachel Griffiths, who leads an outstanding cast of Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Magda Szubanski, Sullivan Stapleton and Stevie Payne, Michelle’s brother and strapper who plays himself.
The movie is the life story of a remarkable woman who as a young child dreamt of one day winning the Melbourne Cup, horse racing’s toughest two mile race. Her road to achieve that dream was not an easy one.
The youngest of ten children, Michelle’s mother Mary was tragically killed in a car crash when she was only six months old, leaving her father Paddy to raise Michelle and her nine siblings alone. Paddy was a horse trainer and Michelle and her siblings grew up around horses, with many of them going on to enter the racing industry.
At fifteen Michelle left school and set about to become a jockey. Along the way she faced fierce opposition and suffered several injuries from falls, including a fractured skull and bruising to the brain, requiring a long recovery period. Against all the medical advice and the protests of her family, she continues on her path and meets Prince of Penzance, a horse that she builds a strong bond with that will eventually carry her across the line. Together with the love of her Dad and brother Stevie, Michelle will not give up and goes on to win the race of her dreams.
Much of the film was filmed in and around Ballarat and had a special screening in the city on 15th September and released across Australia on 26th September. Rachel Griffiths has drawn from her experience and brought to the screen an inspiring story of a young country girl, who against all the odds, rises to the pinnacle of her dreams.
Early reviews of the movie tell of a family friendly, heart warming tale of a girl, a horse, a loving family and a will to win.