MARK ZAHRA thrashed the field to win the Melbourne Cup on Without A Fight – then called himself an ‘idiot’ for his celebration.
The Australian jockey, 41, went back-to-back in the huge Australian race after winning on Gold Trip last year.
He controversially switched from that horse for Without A Fight in the days before the race.
But it proved a smart move with the former British-trained runner – who was sent off 7-1 – surging home in front of 85,000 raucous fans at Flemington and stunning huge favourite Vauban in the process.
Zahra stuck two fingers up at the crowd afterwards – a signal for his consecutive wins in the two-mile feature.
But with emotions running high immediately afterwards, he admitted it wasn’t the best idea.
Zahra said: “I was giving the two fingers signal for two winners. I don’t know what I was thinking. Idiot.”
The jockey need not worry too much given his cut of the winnings will be around £250,000 – and he’s a rider who knows how to party.
There will be no celebrating for top Irish trainer Willie Mullins, though, after his big hope Vauban flopped completely.
He was backed from monster odds into 3-1 fav but drifted out before the race.
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And though hitting the front after the field exited the home turn, he faded tamely under Ryan Moore.
Mullins’ other runner and York Ebor winner Absurde – who finished seven lengths behind Vauban at Royal Ascot – was smashed by punters before the race and finished an impressive seventh.
But that was as good as it got for the raiders, as the Australians dominated their big race.
Soulcombe came second at 15-2 after missing the break again while freak 150-1 outsider Sheraz finished third.
You can see where your horse finished here.
Zahra was fined £26,000 just a fortnight ago for his Caulfield Cup-winning ride on Without A Fight.
But it looked like he couldn’t care less afterwards as he drank Champagne and partied with friends.
He famously looked worse for wear the morning after winning last year’s Melbourne Cup and it looks like a repeat is on the cards this time round.
Zahra added after victory: “That was unbelievable. If I could have thought I’d have that run from stall 16 I would have said he’s unbeatable.
“This horse was a gentleman for me today. He went to the rail and switched off and probably got to the front earlier than last year.
“In front of him was Gold Trip and Vauban. I thought I’d stay here.
“They all made their moves and it opened up for me. 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.”
Mullins said he wanted to see the race again because he thought Vauban might have been too near the front too early on.
The early pacesetters faded away and his Cheltenham Festival-winning horse could only finish a lowly 14th.
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The trainer suggested he could also now be reverted to jumps.
But this was a day that belonged to Zahra, trainers Anthony and Sam Freedman and proud owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid.
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