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Picture: Emotional jockey Mark Zahra reacts after Gold Trip wins the 2022 Melbourne Cup (abc.net.au)
 

By Andrew McGarry and Jon Healy (abc.net.au)

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Mark Zahra says it is “unbelievable” that he guided Gold Trip to victory.
 
Zahra rode brilliantly to guide the French stayer to victory, less than three weeks after the horse had finished second in the Caulfield Cup.
 
“I can’t [put this into words]. I feel like crying. It’s unbelievable. What a day,” he said.
 
“He’s a horse that when you go, you don’t give him a chance to think about it. I was hoping no-one would come near me.”
 
Favourite Deauville Legend finished strongly, but could only manage fourth.
 
An emotional Zahra spoke of the difference between 2022 and last year, when he was suspended and lost the ride on eventual winner Verry Elleegant.
 
“This time last year [I was] in Byron Bay and I was getting told off [by my wife] for drinking too much and it could have been my ride,” he told Channel 10.
 
“I said, ‘What do you want me to do? My horse [Verry Elleegant] just won the Melbourne Cup?’

 

(Zahra was suspended for breaking Covid protocol by partying at an AirBnB with fellow jockeys).

 

“For today, to come today and I’ve got good mates in the horse and it’s unbelievable.
 
“Redemption day today. Just a miracle.”
 
The field of 22 horses runs around the first turn in the Melbourne Cup, with grandstands full of fans in the background.
English Derby winner Serpentine led around the first turn in the Melbourne Cup, while Mark Zahra eased Gold Trip (2nd from far left) back in the field. (Getty Images: Racing Photos / Scott Barbour)
 
The race was held on a soft 7 surface after the track was downgraded following some showers late-morning.
 
There was a scramble for the lead at the start, with horses racing up to seven wide as Zahra kept Gold Trip midfield, drifting back to the second half of the field.
 
Frontrunner Serpentine took control at halfway, with Tralee Rose and Smokin’ Romans second and third.
 
Internationals Deauville Legend and Without A Fight found the fence, with Knights Order out wide.
 
Locals Duais and 2019 winner Vow and Declare were up with the field.
 
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Knights Order hit the front after the 1,000m with Smokin’ Romans, then began to go clear on his own.
 
Knights Order pinched a break on the turn, with Without A Fight and Deauville Legend moving into position.

 

The winning jockey stands up in the irons and raises his arm as he rides the Melbourne Cup winner with the field behind him.
Gold Trip came from back in the field to win the Melbourne Cup from Emissary (2nd left), High Emocean (obscured) and Deauville Legend (white and red).(Getty Images: Racing Photos / George Sal)
 
In the straight, Smokin’ Romans hit the front at the 450m, but Deauville Legend and Gold Trip came down the outside.
 
Zahra and Gold Trip grabbed the lead before the 250m, and the pair went clear, as Emissary finished strongly to take second and Bendigo Cup-winner High Emocean finished third ahead of the favourite.
 
“I’ve got the Cup with me and I can’t stop looking at it knowing it’s something that can never be taken away,” Zahra told ABC Radio Melbourne.
 
After making a late surge in the final moments of the race, Zahra said the final stretch after taking the lead was agonising.
 
“I looked up and thought ‘oh jeez, there’s still a fair way to go here’, the last 100 [metres] felt like it went forever, I couldn’t wait for that post,” he said.
 
Gold Trip, a French-bred horse, came fourth in French classic Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in 2020, before coming to Australia last year to join trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
 
Zahra said he hadn’t been confident that Gold Trip would last the 3,200m cup distance.
 
The two trainers of the Melbourne Cup winner stand either side of the winning jockey, all holding trophies after the race.
It was all smiles for trainers Ciaron Maher (L) and David Eustace (R) and jockey Mark Zahra after their first Melbourne Cup win.(Getty Images: Racing Photos / Scott Barbour)
 
Gold Trip had run second in the Caulfield Cup, then backed up for an eighth-place finish in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley 10 days ago.
 

The six-year-old went on to make history, becoming only the third topweight in nearly seven decades to win the Cup, joining three-time winner Makybe Diva (2005) and Rising Fast (1954).

CLICK HERE TO WATCH TODAY’S CUP REPLAY