The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
The 163rd edition of the Group 1 $8.41 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) has been won by the Anthony & Sam Freedman-trained Without A Fight who drew clear the closing stages off a gun ride by last year’s winning jockey Mark Zahra to become the 12th horse in history to complete the Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double.
In a massive Melbourne Cup 2023 result for trainer Chris Waller he prepared both place-getters with Soulcombe running second despite missing the kick by three lengths, while the stable’s triple-figure roughie Sheraz producing a career best performance in third to complete the trifecta.
Without A Fight became the first horse since the Kiwi mare Ethereal (2001) to do the Spring Cups’ double.
The now seven-year-old Irish-bred son of Teofilo atoned for his unplaced 13th some 20 lengths beaten behind Gold Trip in last year’s Melbourne Cup race as a raider for Simon & Ed Crisford.
Now with the Freedmans at Mornington he handed the father-son duo their first Melbourne Cup success as a team with Zahra going back-to-back in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
The Freedman family have now won the Melbourne Cup six times including Lee Freedman’s 2004 and 2005 wins with triple hero Makybe Diva who also won her first for David Hall in 2003.
Four-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Harry White for his third and fourth victories aboard Arwon (1978) and Hyperno (1979) was the last hoop to win two Melbourne Cups on successive years aboard different horses.
“I thought the biggest opposition was my horse himself,” Zahra told Racing.com after the victory.
“Going to the gates he was relaxed I thought this was a good sign.
“I was getting to the front early but I just through there was no way anything was coming from behind me and boom away we went.
“To change horses to get a bit of flack about my choice and for it to pay off is justified.”
Zahra had Without A Fight ($8.50) switched off beautifully towards the back of the field throughout as Serpentine set a strong pace in the lead before the gap opened up for him on the home straight.
It was a master performance from barrier 16 by the winning Melbourne Cup hoop who, after running the first 400m, had already found his spot tucked away on the fence.
Without A Fight came with a charging late run right up the middle bolting past his rivals to hit the line over two lengths clear of Soulcombe ($9.50) who came off a seventh in the Caulfield Cup and made up late ground with the ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira aboard.
“Obviously very proud of him putting on a good performance,” Moreira said of the 2023 Melbourne Cup runner-up.
“Things didn’t really go his way. Not jumping that well made it a little bit difficult for him, as well as getting into a bit of traffic at the 600, 700 metres also counted against him winning the race, but I’m very proud of how he ran.”
His stablemate Sheraz ($151) had been under an injury cloud last week, but showed he was fit and ready to fight only half-length further back third ahead of the fourth placed Ashrun.
“Amazing run, as you would have seen,” Beau Mertens said after jumping off the Melbourne Cup third place-getter.
“We got into a lovely spot, he relaxed really nicely for me once everything settled and Chris and the team came up with the plan just to have him tucked away for as long as possible and once we produced him in the straight he let down with a nice turn of foot and stayed the trip terrifically.
“Couldn’t be happier, the team had him in great order and it’s just fantastic.”
Gold Trip meanwhile ran 23 lengths back 17th in his failed title defence on the firm track, while another from the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace stable Right You Are failed to finish and was being hosed down post-race to cool down.
“We settled in a nice spot, but we were struggling from a long way out and I pulled him up because he lost his action turning into the straight,” John Allen said of Right You Are who was subsequently found to be lame behind.
“I felt he may have just choked down.
“He was struggling to breathe but I jumped off him and once he got his breath back he walked off OK, so hopefully he’s OK.”
Co-trainer Maher subsequently confirmed Right You Are had suffered some heat stress but was doing well.
“He had a bit of heat stress,” Maher said.
“He has had a couple of showers now and he’s starting to come back to himself.”
The long-time favourite, the Willie Mullins-trained Irish raider Vauban, was ultimately disappointing running 14th over 13 lengths beaten.
“I thought Vauban was a little disappointing all round. He was beaten too far out for my liking,” Mullins said.
“When I saw him six furlongs out with Ryan (Moore) having to give him a little niggle, I thought, ‘That’s too far out for him to be niggling him’. He just flattened out and ran very disappointing.
“But there we are. That’s the nature of this game.”
Melbourne Cup 2023 Results & Finishing Order
|1||3||WITHOUT A FIGHT (IRE)||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Mark Zahra||16||56.5kg||1.0kg||$8|
|2||6||SOULCOMBE (GB)||Chris Waller||Joao Moreira||2.25L||4||53.5kg||$9.50|
|3||14||SHERAZ (FR)||Chris Waller||Beau Mertens||2.75L||22||51.5kg||$151|
|4||11||ASHRUN (FR)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Kerrin McEvoy||4.75L||11||51.5kg||$26|
|5||12||DAQIANSWEET JUNIOR (NZ)||Phillip Stokes||Daniel Stackhouse||4.95L||12||51.5kg||$51|
|6||22||INTERPRETATION (IRE)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Teo Nugent||5.35L||17||50kg||$41|
|7||7||ABSURDE (FR)||Willie Mullins||Zac Purton||5.45L||8||53kg||$9|
|8||24||TRUE MARVEL (FR)||Matthew Smith||Ben Thompson||6.7L||10||50kg||$151|
|9||9||VOW AND DECLARE||Danny O’Brien||Billy Egan||7.45L||19||53kg||$31|
|10||17||MILITARY MISSION (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Ms Rachel King||8.2L||5||51kg||0.5kg||$26|
|11||13||OKITA SOUSHI (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||Dylan Gibbons (a)||8.4L||20||51.5kg||$101|
|12||20||MORE FELONS (IRE)||Chris Waller||Ms Jamie Kah||9.15L||23||50.5kg||$26|
|13||15||LASTOTCHKA (FR)||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Craig Williams||13.15L||21||51kg||$26|
|14||5||VAUBAN (FR)||Willie Mullins||Ryan Moore||13.35L||3||55kg||$5.50F|
|15||21||FUTURE HISTORY (GB)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Hollie Doyle||14.1L||13||50kg||$18|
|16||4||BREAKUP (JPN)||Tatsuya Yoshioka||Kohei Matsuyama||14.3L||18||55kg||$18|
|17||1||GOLD TRIP (FR)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||James McDonald||23.3L||2||58.5kg||$6.50|
|18||19||VIRTUOUS CIRCLE (NZ)||Liam Howley||Craig Newitt||32.3L||6||51kg||$151|
|19||18||SERPENTINE (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Jye McNeil||32.4L||1||51kg||$41|
|20||23||KALAPOUR (IRE)||Kris Lees||Zac Lloyd (a)||32.7L||14||50kg||$41|
|21||2||ALENQUER (FR)||Michael Moroney||Damien Oliver||33.45L||9||56.5kg||$21|
|22||16||MAGICAL LAGOON (IRE)||Chris Waller||Mark Du Plessis||43.45L||7||51kg||$101|
|FF||8||RIGHT YOU ARE||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||John Allen||15||53kg||$31|
|10||CLEVELAND (IRE)||Kris Lees||Michael Dee||0||0.5kg|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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