Where were you when the first female won the Melbourne Cup? Well done Michelle Payne. One for the ages #MelbCup
— Ben Friedlander (@BennyB11) November 3, 2015
The Melbourne Cup is Australia's top race, worth over A$ 6 million (US $4.5 million). In the local cliché, it's ‘the race that stops a nation’. It is even a public holiday in Melbourne itself.
Australia-based Twitter user Red Under the Beds was jubilant:
— Reds Under the Beds (@Nettythe1st) November 3, 2015
Immediately after the race, Payne was quick to see the win as a triumph over chauvinism, saying, “But I gave it everything I got. I want to say to everyone else get stuffed, they think women aren't strong enough but we just beat the world.” Her words were picked up worldwide.
— Fabio Incalcaterra (@fincalcaterra) November 3, 2015
Within minutes, Payne's Twitter followers jumped by 2,000 to over 12,000. This included the Victorian State Health minister Jill Hennessy, who tweeted:
— Jill Hennessy MP (@JillHennessyMP) November 3, 2015
It was also a very personal, family moment for Payne. Her brother Stevie, who has Down syndrome, is the horse's strapper (the person who grooms and looks after racehorses). Prior to the race, she uploaded a photo to Instagram of her brother at the barrier draw:
— Michelle Payne (@mj_payne) October 31, 2015
BuzzFeed published photos of the duo trophy in hand:
— Alex Lee (@alex_c_lee) November 3, 2015
The win overshadowed animal rights issues such as the use of the whip and the life threatening injury to three-time runner-up horse Red Cadeaux, who was last reported to be “alive and well” after surgery on its leg. Some even looked for positives:
Despite opinions on horse racing as a ‘sport’, I'm so happy for Michelle Payne and her family. She didn't needlessly whip the horse either.
— Jules The Red (@RedJules4) November 3, 2015
Zoe Norton Lodge seemed to sum up the feelings of those conflicted:
This is a very confusing time for feminists who hate animal cruelty #MelbourneCup
— Zoe Norton Lodge (@zoenl) November 3, 2015
Some went further:
— Blake Erickson (@Blake_Erickson) November 3, 2015
Payne's last tweet before the race congratulated record-breaking race caller Greg Miles. She used a hashtag that seems appropriate for her:
— Michelle Payne (@mj_payne) November 2, 2015
Payne's milestone comes two years after that of Gai Waterhouse, who was the first woman trainer of a Melbourne Cup winner in 2013.