Michelle Payne slams ‘pig’ owner over female ride change
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne has weighed in on an owner's decision to dump Linda Meech from a Victorian Derby contender only days out from the race.
Set to be run on Saturday afternoon, Meech was down to ride one of the favourites, Thought of That, but owner Brae Sokolski made the call to replace Meech with jockey Mark Zahra.
Meech had ridden the colt and second favourite in the Derby in each of its last two races but was advised of the decision on Tuesday morning.
It was a call that left Payne infuriated and she didn't hold back when addressing the decision on social media.
In a since deleted tweet, Payne took aim at Sokolski.
"Not for the public to decide but the public can recognise you as a pig," Payne wrote.
Her comment was in reply to Sokolski's statement defending the decision to have Zahra ride the horse instead of Meech.
"I know it's going to be unpopular and I know I'm probably getting lambasted on Twitter but so be it," Sokolski said.
"I make the decision, it's the right decision for the horse and the owners, it's not a decision for the public."
This isn't the first time Payne has taken aim at the racing industry after she blasted the "chauvinistic" nature following her historic 2015 Melbourne Cup victory on longshot Prince of Penzance.
"It's such a chauvinistic sport, a lot of the owners wanted to kick me off. Everyone else can get stuffed (who) think women aren't good enough," she said after the race.
Despite deleting the tweet labelling Sokolski "a pig", Payne continued to stick up for Meech and labelled the decision "heartbreaking" in follow up tweets.
"One of the most ruthless decisions made. Zahra wasn't teaching the horse to be racehorse at Donald two starts back when he was striking and roaring at the other runners behind the barriers. Disgraceful!" she wrote in one tweet.
"I'm not going to complain for every jockey. I've shared a jockeys room with Linda for nearly 20 years. She deserved this opportunity. It's heartbreaking," she said in another.
Former trainer Peter Moody also slammed the decision to remove Meech from the ride with the big race only days away.
"She done a very good job on him the past two but I guess you have to respect the owners, they have to put their hand in the kick and pay the bills," Moody said on RSN radio.
"But I really feel for Linda in that circumstance.
"I think the fact she found out on Tuesday morning is very disappointing for her. She's galloped the horse this morning and was cock-a-hoop and very pleased and then learned post galloping the horse that she wasn't there to ride the horse on Saturday."
Linda Meech proves you don't have to be dead to be stiff. Rode Though Of That beautifully last two starts, yet replaced by Mark Zahra for Saturday's VRC Derby.— Daniel Miles (@danielmiles) October 29, 2019