On November 8, 2023, the annual Melbourne Cup was marked by a thrilling victory from horse Without A Fight, ridden by jockey Mark Zahra. The race, which had an AU$8.4 million purse, saw Zahra expertly navigate the final stretch, securing a second consecutive Melbourne Cup victory on a different horse. Zahra’s win earned him AU$4.4 million of the total purse. Without A Fight, with favorable odds of +600, was a top choice among contenders, ultimately beating out favorites like Vauban and Soulcombe.
The race also proved to be profitable for several savvy bettors. A $10,000 bet on Without A Fight resulted in a prize of AU$75,000. Additionally, two New Zealand bettors walked away with NZ$49,500 and NZ$45,000, respectively, after placing bets on the victorious horse. Notably, a homeless man in New Zealand celebrated a stunning win of NZ$106,333 after strategically selecting options for the top four finishers. The race contributed to NZ TAB’s reported payout of NZ$10 million.
However, not every bettor experienced success. A professional bettor in Australia wagered AU$320,000 on Vauban to win, only to see the horse finish in 14th place. The Melbourne Cup weekend also saw a significant turnout of protestors, with around 100 pro-Palestine activists gathering outside the Flemington racecourse on Melbourne Cup Day. They were joined by animal rights activists who protested against the race, arguing that it constitutes animal cruelty.
Despite the protests, race organizers from Victoria Racing reported no deaths or injuries during the event. The protesters’ criticisms also extended to local restaurants that embraced the Melbourne Cup festivities, accusing them of indirectly supporting an industry that exploits and endangers horses. Overall, the Melbourne Cup was marked by both thrilling victories and contentious protests, reflecting the diverse range of perspectives surrounding the event.