Without A Fight has won an epic Caulfield Cup by a nose ahead of West Wind Blows.
The six-year-old Irish horse (paying $8.50) staved off a gallant West Wind Blows ($5.50) in a thrilling last 100m to claim the $5m Group 1 victory with Mark Zahra riding for trainers Anthony and Sam Freeman.
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It’s the gelding’s sixth win from 14 starts, but first over 2400m.
He ran multiple Group 1 winner Pyledriver to within a just over a length and he claimed second in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2414m) at Royal Ascot this year, but Saturday’s run was his best over the distance.
West Wind Blows and race favourite Gold Trip looked to have been running ahead of the pack at the 200, but Without A Fight came with a head of steam to set up an enthralling final 100 metres.
The quinella paring dropped Gold Trip just before the 50 and were running almost in unison as they approached the finish line.
West Wind Blows looked like it just might hold on until the eventual winner ran just clear with about 20 metres to go.
Top jockey drops to rare weight in bid to win Caulfield Cup
Without A Fight (IRE) ridden by Mark Zahra wins the Caulfield Cup. Credit: George Sal/Racing Photos via Getty Images
“Australian racing at its very best,” Bruce McAvaney said after the race.
“You don’t get a better last 400 metres than that. It was magnificent, it was stirring.
“What a performance.”
Pre-race favourite Gold Trip, who had been a doubt to run earlier in the day over concerns from trainers over the firmness of the track, finished third over the 2400-metre course.
It was Zahra’s second time riding a Caulfield Cup winner, while the Freemans saluted in the world’s richest 2400m race for the first time.
Speaking to Channel 7 after the race, Sam Freeman said, “He is just a good horse.”
It was an epic finish between the two leaders. Credit: Seven
“Got to say particular thank you to the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid who made the right call to send the horse out in the first place,” Freeman said.
“He him out here and what a call, he has pulled the right reign, the horse is brilliant on top of the ground and all the staff at home, they have done a terrific job.
“A particular thank you to Mornington Racing Club, they have given us to the access course proper as much as we needed. Obviously went from the 1800 to the mile-and-a-half.”
Soulcombe, part-owned by a syndicate of six Richmond AFL players, including retired champion Jack Riewoldt, Jayden Short and Nathan Broad, came in seventh.
Before the race, three-time premiership defender Broad said he was more nervous than in two of the Tigers’ three grand finals between 2017-2020.
“I’ll stand by that comment,” he told Channel 7.
“I struggled to get my breakfast down this morning.”
Caulfield Cup final placings
Without A FightWest Wind BlowsGold TripBois D’ArgentRight You AreValiant KingSoulcombeBreakupDuke De SessaUnited NationsHoo Ya MalOkita SoushiMontefiliaSpirit RidgeFameGoldmanFrancesco GuardiEmissary
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