Many readers will recall that moment when Michelle Payne rode her way to win the 2015 Melbourne Cup. But few will know the trials and tribulations she experienced both on and off the track and how her resilience and determination was rewarded with a place in the history books and the hearts of all Australians. This is the story that stopped a nation and inspired all girls to dream big.
Michelle Payne and Rachel Griffiths at the Sydney Gala Premiere of Ride Like a Girl
The daughter of a widowed father and youngest of 10 siblings, Michelle was raised with horses and racing in her blood. Even as a 5 year old, Michelle's dream was to win the Melbourne Cup, a dream that everyone dismissed as girls were not considered capable of achieving at the same level as racing's elite male jockeys. But Michelle wasn't going to let custom or convention get in the way and so she embarked on an extraordinary journey with little support, setbacks, undisguised bias and barriers both on and off the track. Her race to success was long and hard-earned.
Directed by Rachel Griffiths and starring Teresa Palmer as Michelle Payne and Sam Neill as Michelle's father, Paddy, Ride Like a Girl tells Michelle's story, along with that of her family, including her brother and best friend, Stevie, who plays himself in the film. The story explores the barriers faced by women in a male-dominated industry and the compromises made and lengths taken to get a break.
Ride Like a Girl is about overcoming the odds and is inspiring and uplifting. The central theme of diversity and inclusion is delivered with care and sensitivity and will fuel positive discussion around gender bias and disability. It's also a powerful and beautiful portrayal of Australian life and culture with a healthy dose of humour to balance out the serious message it conveys.
We all know this story has a happy ending but I challenge any movie-goer not to be on the edge of their seat during the race scenes and especially "the race that stopped a nation" and guaranteed Michelle a place in Australian racing history!
Ride Like a Girl is one of those rare films that is entertaining, educational, challenging and suitable for all ages. It's a "must-see" for older children who will be encouraged to pursue their passions and who also have a real opportunity to drive significant and positive change for diversity and inclusion.
This is a film to see at the cinema with its stunning scenery, cinematography and sound. You'll feel part of the race with the clever camera angles and surround sound vibrating around the cinema and you'll come away knowing that dreams can become reality with belief, support, patience and determination.