An enthusiasm for office sweepstakes means I can name an unexpected number of horses that have won the Melbourne Cup but I can only remember the name of one jockey responsible for bringing the winning horse home.

In 2015, Prince of Penzance overcame lousy odds to win the cup, with jockey Michelle Payne the first woman jockey to win "the race that stops a nation".

Ride Like a Girl tells Payne's story; the youngest of 10 children, raised by father Paddy, a well-known Ballarat horse trainer, after her mother died when she was 6 months old. The whole family was, naturally, horse-crazy and Michelle always dreamed of one day winning the Melbourne Cup.

For a real-life story like this to translate to the screen it needs inspiration and heart, with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome. Michelle faces more than her fair share; family tragedy and fallouts, sexism in a male-dominated industry and recovery from a fall that could have ruined her career.


Teresa Palmer is fabulous as Payne, taking us along for the ride despite a well-known ending and Payne's real-life brother Stevie, who has Down syndrome and plays himself in the film, steals the show with a humorous and heartfelt performance.

First time director Rachel Griffiths wanted to make a PG film that would make audiences cry, and that pretty much sums up Ride Like a Girl. While formulaic, at times cheesy, and avoiding much of the controversy that swirls around the racing industry, it's big on determination, grit and passion.

If you've got a daughter who is too old for animations but too young for many teenage films, Ride Like a Girl is the perfect film to fill the gap.


Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill


Rachel Griffiths

Running Time:


98 mins


PG (Coarse Language)


A predictably told but uplifting story.