Wednesday, December 1

Rachel King sets her sights on becoming the second female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup


Rachel King will ride in her first Melbourne Cup. Picture: David Swift
Rachel King will ride in her first Melbourne Cup. Picture: David Swift

When Michelle Payne won the 2015 Melbourne Cup she famously told the chauvinistic brigade in racing to “get stuffed’’ – but there will be a different vibe from the jockey who could follow in her footsteps next Tuesday.

Right from the moment English horsewoman Rachel King set foot on Australian soil and started riding, she felt complete acceptance.

A King will become a Queen if the Sydney-based jockey wins her debut Melbourne Cup when she rides Pondus for seven-time Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams next Tuesday.

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It would follow in Payne’s footsteps and make King just the second female jockey to have won the Melbourne Cup in the grand history of the great race.

Horse Racing: Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne is backing red hot favourite Incentivise to live up to the hype.

But King, 31, feels that reaching such lofty heights would probably never have been possible when she was a jockey in her former English homeland.

“Once I got to Australia, I saw so many more opportunities than what there was in England, especially for girls,” King told News Corp Australia.

“The UK has come a long way in the last four or five years but at the time I was there I really struggled and I just couldn’t get a go.

“I flicked backwards and forwards from an apprentice (jockey) to amateur and I rode over jumps more than I did on the flat because I got more opportunities.

“I just couldn’t get a go, I couldn’t find my place as such.

“I couldn’t find that spot in the jockeys’ room over there.”

Michelle Payne celebrates after becoming the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, on Prince of Penzance in 2015. Picture: AAP
Michelle Payne celebrates after becoming the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, on Prince of Penzance in 2015. Picture: AAP

King gets on well with Jamie Kah, the banned champion jockey who had her first Melbourne Cup ride when she rode fan favourite Prince Of Arran to an unlucky third behind Twilight Payment last year.

King said she may reach out to Kah in the coming days about how to deal with the pressure cooker of the Melbourne Cup lead-up.

But if not, King will be looking to raid the brains of plenty of other top jockeys who have Melbourne Cup experience.

“Jamie and I get on well but she is away from racing at the moment, I won’t want to impose on her too much,” King said.

“I think any advice from anyone who has ridden in the Cup is hugely valuable.

“I will definitely be asking lots of questions of lots of jockeys once I get to Melbourne.”

Rachel King rides Pondus for Lloyd Williams in the Cup. Picture: AAP
Rachel King rides Pondus for Lloyd Williams in the Cup. Picture: AAP

News Corp spoke to King on Thursday as she was making the 10-hour road trip from Sydney to Melbourne, set to ride at Flemington on Saturday and get a valuable sighter of the famous track before the big dance of the Melbourne Cup next week.

King, who had her first Sydney ride in 2016, joined the Group 1 club when Maid Of Heaven won the Spring Champion Stakes in Sydney in 2018.

But she has only had four career rides at Flemington and never ridden a winner there.

King has rides in all four Group 1s on Derby day with her best Group 1 chance looking to be Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained gelding Riodini who is rated a $9 chance in the Cantala Stakes.

“It will definitely be nice to have a few rides on familiar horses at Flemington to give me a feel for it,” she said.

“I’ve got horses running over all different distances and that should give me a good bit of experience before next Tuesday.”

King has had the golden touch in Sydney over the last 18 months, finishing third behind James McDonald and Tommy Berry in last season’s metropolitan riding premiership.

Pondus is a $34 Melbourne Cup chance in latest TAB fixed odds markets.

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www.theaustralian.com.au

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