Gold Trip made light of inclement weather and an early-morning attempt to sabotage the track to win the 162nd running of the Melbourne Cup, as unrestricted crowds returned to Flemington Racecourse for the first time in three years.
Emissary came in second two lengths behind, with High Emocean – a stablemate of the winner – in third. Pre-race favourite, Deauville Legend, finished fourth.
After just 10,000 spectators were allowed in a year ago due to Covid-19 restrictions – and none at all during the Victorian lockdown in 2020 – a sizeable but soggy crowd watched as Gold Trip, trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, galloped to victory over the 3,200m course.
Asked to try and put his feelings into words, winning jockey Mark Zahra said: “I can’t. I feel like crying. It’s unbelievable. What a day.
“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 he. It’s just elation when I crossed the line.”
Asked if he watched the Cup as a youngster, Zahra said: “Yeah. Mum used to give us the day off so I could watch it. It’s surreal.”
Torrential rain that fell on Melbourne earlier in the day cleared in time for the marquee event, but come the 3pm jump the track was hardly dry.
A section of it near the 1,500m mark has also sustained damage in the early hours of Tuesday morning when protesters poured an unknown fluid onto the surface.
The track was cleaned and repaired before being deemed fit to race on. Police say they are investigating the incident.
The field for the $7.75m race had been reduced to 22 starters after Lunar Flare – the offspring of 2013 Cup winner Fiorente – failed a veterinary examination and joined Point Nepean as a late scratching.
More to follow.