How times change. Michelle Payne has just become the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, but over a century ago, a similarly trailblazing female jockey was the cause of "sensation" on the Flemington track.
Documents and archive centre Trove tweeted just after the race about a historic incident in 1913 where a "young woman was discovered to be riding work" and given an official caution.
— Trove (@TroveAustralia) November 3, 2015
"Track watchers at Flemington on Monday morning were provided with a sensation which, for the time being, made the doings of Cup horses seem of small moment," read a report in the Zeehan and Dundas Herald on October 24, 1913.
"Between 6 and 7 o'clock, when the tracks were usually busiest, a young woman was discovered to be "riding work." She wore long boots, trousers and loose shirt, this being the costume ordinarily affected by jockeys on the tracks, except that boots were worn in place of leggings."
The newspaper report goes on to detail that critics were "impressed" by the rider, "Miss Marjorie Longdar, a visitor from Tasmania." She was said to be riding two horses, one named Heros.
The paper reported that even men "who found difficulty in adjusting their thoughts to the female invasion of what has hitherto been regarded as a close preserve of the opposite sex were compelled to admit Miss Longdar rode exceedingly well".
She was said to have had "light, firm hands".
However, despite whatever lightness or firmness evident in her hands, the officials cautioned her for "riding so fast in a contest which was designed to be primarily a test of jumping ability".
Longdar was said to have "expressed surprise" over the caution.
The Herald dedicated a page-length story to the "sensation," but no doubt Michelle Payne will have many more column inches dedicated to her historic win.Suggest a correction