A unique solution for a topweight burdened with a tremendous impost over lesser company—use an apprentice jockey! Watching a 5f sprint at Narrandera early Monday morning, I was concerned seeing the 7-year-old Encosta de Lago gelding Murray Downs carrying 138 pounds versus three rivals, each carrying 119. Then I noticed the bug, which dropped him down to a more manageable 129. Needless to say, the big boy hunkered down, fought back after nearly being passed, to win by a neck over El Veloz.
It was the first win—in his very first mount—for apprentice Samuel Payne, son of pioneering jockey Brigid Payne who died quite unexpectedly last January at age 36. As the eldest of 10 children—eight of whom became jockeys, Brigid got her jockey license at age 14, in 1984, and rode 41 winners before retiring at age 18. Her five sisters who became jockeys include: Therese, who rode 450 winners before retiring in 1997 (now a trainer); Maree, who rode about 600 winners before retiring (her husband and she moved to Hong Kong in 2003); and Bernadette, Cathy (married to jockey Kerrin McEvoy) and Michelle who are still riding. Her brother Andrew retired from riding and now trains, while Patrick, who has over 1000 wins, came out of retirement last year to ride jumps. What an interesting family!
Oh, and did I mention…young Samuel Payne is only 15-years-old! Congratulations, young man. Your mum would have been proud.
Pioneering Aussie jockey Brigid Payne, age 17