The 30-year-old Australian left her compatriots -- and the racing world -- stunned Tuesday after becoming the first woman to win the $6.2 million "race that stops a nation" on board 100-1 outsider Prince of Penzance.
And she rode into history bedecked in the green, white and purple colors of the Suffragettes -- women who campaigned for equality in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
"It's a very male-dominated sport and people think we're not strong enough and all the rest of it blah, blah, blah," Payne said minutes after her victory.
"But you know what? It's not all about strength. It's so much more involved -- getting a horse into a rhythm, getting the horse to try for you and being patient."
Even in her moment of triumph Payne's rallying call was for her sex to be given more opportunities: "We (females) sort of don't get enough of a go."
Payne's success might be labeled as a fairytale, but in reality it's a remarkable triumph of grit and determination in the face of personal tragedy and adversity.
One of 10 children, Payne's mother died in a car accident when she was just six months old.
Horse racing was the lifeblood of her family -- eight of the Payne family have taken to the turf of Australian racecourses -- so perhaps it's no surprise that Payne became a jockey.
There was a strong family connection within Payne's party at Flemington racecourse.
Her brother Steven works as her strapper, while also serving as a positive example of what people with Down syndrome can achieve.
"I think it's great for other people with Down syndrome -- to see how capable they can be in normal life," Payne told ABC in an interview before the race.
"Stevie can pretty much do anything, and look after himself when he's on his own."
Indeed, it was Stevie who had drawn starting gate No. 1 for Michelle and Prince of Penzance.
Pop stars and prime ministers alike took to Twitter to congratulate Payne. Singer Delta Goodrem tweeted: "AMAZING!! Incredible! #girlpower #femalejockey well done Michelle Payne and her bro Steve!! beautiful horse beautiful creatures xx"
In a slightly more reserved post, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "Great win Prince of Penzance and great ride Michelle Payne first woman jockey to win the #MelbourneCup!"