Not every running of the Melbourne Cup is Hollywood-worthy – only Phar Lap has so far made the cut – but the 2015 race is on its way the big screen.
And it’s no surprise why. In the 155th running of the Cup, Michelle Payne made history by becoming the first female jockey to win the race that stops the nation – and her victory on 100-1 chance Prince of Penzance is the subject of a movie that marks the directorial debut of superstar actress Rachel Griffiths.
The tale of the girl from Miners Rest who overcame numerous personal tragedies to succeed is being transformed for the silver screen in Ride Like A Girl, due for release in 2019.
Racing identity and commentator Jason Richardson says Payne was unprepared for the global media attention that came with her historic victory.
“I don’t think she was prepared for the reaction of everyone, the reaction of all the girls to her. It’s just been amazing,” he said.
“There’ll be young eight to 10-year-old girls, who are doing pony club right now, who’ll now think, ‘Yeah, I can’t wait to be a jockey after seeing the film’.”
Griffiths, an Emmy and Oscar nominated actress, described the moment she saw Payne win the Cup in an interview with Deadline Hollywood.
“It was an indescribable moment. Everyone remembers where they were during that race, I rang my producer and said, ‘We have to do this one’,” she said.
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The ambulance… lol! #Repost @ridelikeagirlmovie (@get_repost) ・・・ We’ve been catching up with director Rachel Griffiths on set… here’s her first video diary from Weeks 1 and 2. Stay tuned for more updates from behind the scenes! We would love you to #JoinTheRide and tag those who you have shared memories of triumph, love, happiness in any form with. Welcome to #ridelikeagirlmovie produced by @richardlkeddie and directed by @rachelgriffiths33
Under Griffiths’ direction is Australian actress Teresa Palmer as Payne, and acting royalty Sam Neill as Payne’s father Paddy.
“When I first met Michelle we got to sneak and away and really connect and we just really got each other immediately,” Palmer told News.com.au in April this year.
“I feel so proud of her and asked her a bunch of questions, and just the way she loves her family.”
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THATS A WRAP!!! Thank you @michellejpayne_ for entrusting me with your inspirational story. I’m honoured and humbled. Life changing and moving in every way. To the whole @ridelikeagirlmovie team, what a journey it’s been, I’m thankful to all of you. @cdsymons so proud of your work with the racing portion of this film but most importantly I’m so grateful to you for keeping our beautiful horses safe and happy. Rachel Griffiths, you absolute dreamboat. Thanks to you and @richardlkeddie for steering this ship with such grace, passion and commitment, I’ll go in to battle with either of you any day. We did it! Can’t wait to share this story with the world. 🙏🏼 “Anyone who thinks women aren’t strong enough can get stuffed!” -MP
Rounding out the cast is Payne’s real-life brother Stevie, who was Prince of Penzance’s strapper on the day of his sister’s famous win. It was Stevie who drew gate one at the barrier draw the previous weekend, and become an instant celebrity with his post-race celebrations on Channel 7’s broadcast.