Without A Fight stormed to victory at this year’s Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, handing jockey Mark Zahra consecutive wins in Australia’s most prestigious horse race.
Zahra timed his run to perfection, sitting behind the leading pack for much of the two-mile contest before exploding down the home straight at Flemington Racecourse.
The winner, trained by famous father and son duo Anthony and Sam Freedman, hit the front with 300 meters to go and held on for a famous victory.
“It’s amazing to do it once, but to do it again on a different horse, back-to-back, my feet haven’t touched the ground yet,” Zahra told Sky Sports Racing after the famous win.
Such was the six-year-old’s turn of foot, Zahra was able to enjoy the final seconds, celebrating in front of the crowd just before the line.
Without A Fight finished ahead of Soulcombe in second and outsider Sheraz in third. Meanwhile, pre-race favorite Vauban disappointed, finishing down in 14th.
Amid the excitement, Zahra admitted there was an element of relief about the win, given his agonizing choice over which horse to ride for the race.
Gold Trip, the horse Zahra won on last year, was also entered into this year’s race, but the jockey opted instead to ride Without A Fight.
The decision turned out to be the right one, with Zahra speeding past Gold Trip, which finished 17th, on the way to the finish line.
“To change horses and get a little bit of flack about my choice, and for it to pay off, it’s justified,” an ecstatic Zahra told Racing.com.
Zahra is the first jockey to win consecutive Melbourne Cups since Glen Boss rode Makybe Diva to three straight wins between 2003 and 2005.
Winning trainer Sam Freedman, whose family has a rich and successful history in the sport, praised Zahra for an “extraordinary ride” but also credited his father for helping him train a Melbourne Cup winner.
“Credit to the old man, he’s been incredible through all of this. His wisdom and experience,” Freedman said, before turning his attention to Without A Fight.
“The horse is a freak, he went down like he was a sprinter […] he was excellent.”
The Melbourne Cup, which is commonly referred to as the “race that stops a nation,” boasted a $5.15 million prize purse this year.
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com