‘Moron’ jockey makes history at Melbourne Cup
Without A Fight completed a rare Caulfield-Melbourne cup double.
Mark Zahra celebrates his victory on Without A Fight at the Melbourne Cup. Picture: William West/AFP
Seconds after winning this week’s Melbourne Cup, jockey Mark Zahra murmured to himself: “What are you doing, you moron?”
One would imagine something more self-congratulatory after he’d landed Australia’s biggest horse race for a second year in succession. But undemonstrative Zahra caught himself engaging in the sort of triumphal theatrics that are common among jockeys these days.
As 8-1 shot Without A Fight sailed past the Flemington winning post, a comfortable 2.25 lengths clear of his 22 rivals, Zahra felt moved to stand up in the irons and wave his crop about before raising two fingers to remind everyone that this was his second triumph in the venerable Group 1 3200m contest.
In 2022, he won on Gold Trip, who he spurned this time around. Wisely, as Gold Trip finished downfield.
In October, Zahra was fined A$50,000 (nearly R600,000) and suspended for seven days after breaching whip rules when winning the Caulfield on the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum-owned seven-year-old.
Restraint would have been on the 41-year-old rider’s mind. In the end he had little to worry about as the gelding cruised to one of the easiest Melbourne Cup triumphs of recent times.
“Moronic” behaviour might not be Zahra’s style, but he had good cause for the exuberance – not only having completed the rare Melbourne Cup double, but also a 2023 Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double on Without A Fight.
Trained by Anthony and Sam Freedman, Without A Fight is only the 12th horse to have completed this latter double in more than 100 years.
Race favourite Vauban, trained in the UK by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ryan Moore, ran prominently in the marathon but faded badly in the closing stages.
In second place was well-backed, Chris Waller-trained Soulcombe, with international ace Joao Moreira aboard, and in third was 20-1 chance Sheraz.