Jockey Mark Zahra completed a rare slice of history on two fronts with his stunning Melbourne Cup triumph on Tuesday.
Zahra piloted Without A Fight to victory to win the race that stops the nation for the second consecutive year after winning on Gold Trip in 2022.
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He became only the sixth jockey to ever win back-to-back Melbourne Cups on different horses and first since Harry White in 1979.
After crossing the finish line, Zahra celebrated with a two-finger salute to the crowd to reference his extraordinary achievement.
Jockey Mark Zahra after winning the Melbourne Cup. Credit: Getty Images
“I was on a horse you can sit on. He’s got an electric turn of foot and he pulled me all the way to the line and it was all over,” he told Channel 10 immediately after the race.
“Giving the two fingers for two winners. I don’t know what I was thinking. Idiot.”
After winning last year on Gold Trip and then the Caulfield Cup three weeks ago on Without A Fight, Zahra was faced with a difficult decision with which horse to ride this year.
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But he made the right call as Without A Fight became the first horse since Ethereal in 2001 to complete the prestigious Cups double.
He admitted he copped a bit of flak after overlooking last year’s champion in favour of the Freedman-trained stayer.
“Your first Melbourne Cup, you can never compare to that, because you just don’t believe it’s ever going to happen,” he told Racing.com.
“I’ve always said winning one helps you a lot.
“When you win one, a lot of jockeys strive to win one and you can go in thinking this might be my chance.
“But when you’ve won one, if you stuff it up, there’s one at home in the cabinet anyway. You can afford that little bit of luxury. But to change horses and to get a little bit of flak about my choice, for it to pay off, it’s justified.
“I’m just really happy and very, very appreciative.”
Without A Fight’s winning connections will receive $4.4m, as well as a trophy worth around $250,000.
Of the victor’s monetary prize, 10 per cent ($440,000) goes to the trainer and the jockey claims five per cent ($220,000).
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