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By Jack Haynes | 07 Nov 2023 |

Without A Fight: wins the Melbourne Cup under Mark Zahra (Credit: Morgan Hancock)

Caulfield Cup winner Without A Fight completed a big spring carnival double when landing the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

The six-year-old, trained by Anthony and Sam Freedman, quickened up to lead approaching the final furlong for a ready success by two and a quarter lengths.

Hot favourite Vauban moved well turning into the straight but weakened out of contention to finish 14th, while stablemate Absurde finished seventh having led the field with two furlongs to run.

It was a second consecutive Melbourne Cup victory for jockey Mark Zahra, whose decision to ride Without A Fight over last year's winner Gold Trip was vindicated.

Zahra said on Network Ten: "He relaxed well on the rail and I was confident in his ability as he has a good turn of foot.

"When I came off the rail, he quickened well, and while I hit the front early, I felt there was nothing going to come from behind me.

"I can't believe I've won the race again but winning one helps you a lot. You have so much more confidence after getting the first one under your belt.

"If I stuffed it up, I still had a Melbourne Cup win on my CV and you go out there with more belief, especially when riding a good horse."

The Sheikh Mohammed Obaid-owned Without A Fight was formerly trained by Simon and Ed Crisford, winning seven races in Britain including the Grand Cup and Silver Cup at York last year before finishing 13th in the Melbourne Cup on soft ground.

He became the 12th horse to complete the Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double and the first since Ethereal in 2001.

Sam Freedman said: "It's very special to win this race and the team at home have done an amazing job.

"Without A Fight has been thriving and Mark, who has built a great rapport with him, gave him a freak of a ride.

"He's an extraordinary horse and the ground went against him last year but we've been able to bring him back with conditions to suit this time."

Hollie Doyle's mount Future History raced prominently and was in with a shout on the turn in before eventually finishing in mid division.

Soulcombe, formerly trained by William Haggas, overcame a tardy start to finish well for second, with 150-1 shot and Chris Waller-trained stablemate Sheraz and Ashrun completing the first four places.

Waller said: "Soulcombe was good enough to win the race but full credit to the winner. He has weight-for-age form and he was superior.

"Missing the start isn’t ideal. He’s a great horse, he’s a genuine two-miler and he’ll get his chance again. He's still a little bit quirky but once we get him worked out he’ll be better.

"Twelve months ago Sheraz sustained a fractured pelvis. To what he just did is pretty remarkable."