Friends of Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne have sprung to the rider's defence over claims she has stormed out of a media conference to promote the Dubai Duty Free Cup at Ascot in England on Saturday.
Payne was flown to England to compete in a series between teams of women's and men's jockeys, and as part of the promotion, a media conference featuring the Australian jockey was organised.
The Racing Post reported the jockey swore at an Ascot official after she was asked to stay at the event longer, having complained of feeling unwell.
But a friend told Fairfax Media: "She told us that she'd picked up a bug on arriving in London, the same bug that her brother-in-law, another Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, Kieran McEvoy, had also caught on his arrival in England.
"Michelle tried to fight it, but it was one of those complaints that was everywhere and it really knocked her around.
"She told officials at the press conference that she was unwell, but she doesn't know if they understood. She's back in bed trying to get over it, but it looks doubtful if she can make the races on Saturday."
Payne has also told friends and family that she did not swear at an official on her way out of the media conference.
Ascot organisers reportedly declined to comment.
Earlier Payne fulfilled part of her obligations by posing for photos with other riders and gave some interviews before departing.
Payne has not had an easy time in racing since her successful ride on Prince of Penzance made her the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, in 2015.
In May 2016 she had a serious fall at Mildura after the horse she was riding collapsed and was stood on by a rival horse. The former Ballarat schoolgirl suffered a torn pancreas and remained out of racing for six months.
On the cusp of last year's Melbourne Cup it was made clear to Payne that if Prince Of Penzance was to make last year's Melbourne Cup she would not be aboard him.
Some time after, Payne and Australia's most successful horse trainer Darren Weir parted company with Weir saying "there's no 'I' in team".