It's the annual gallery you hope to never be a part of. As soon as the Melbourne Cup is run and won, the hair comes down and the shoes come off in messy scenes at Flemington.
As is tradition, punters let loose in a big way on Cup day, with drinks flowing and plenty of shenanigans taking place. A whopping 84,492 racegoers flocked to Flemington on Tuesday to see Mark Zahra win the great race aboard Without a Fight.
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It marked the biggest attendance for the race that stops the nation since 2017, after the 73,816 who attended in 2022 marked a record low. Victoria Police reported that crowd behaviour was generally good, but the Cup never ceases to throw up some hilarious photos of punters taking things too far.
For the first time in 162 years, both male and female attendees were allowed to wear shorts after strict dress code rules were relaxed. On a hot day in Melbourne, plenty took the opportunity to get their legs some air.
“I want to enjoy the event and sometimes that’s hard when it’s very hot,” said Steve Plarre, Chief executive of Plarre Food Group. “It’s a great thing, it’ll bring more people in or at the very least will make people’s memories of the event better because they weren’t stuffy the whole time.”
Aussie tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis didn't wear shorts, but could see the merits in it. “I wore shorts at my mate’s wedding once and it didn’t go too well,” he said. “People were asking me, ‘What are you doing?’, so I thought I’d stay in my lane today with pants. However, if there was a day to wear shorts it would be today – I’m pretty hot, I’m not gonna lie.”
Cleaners faced a monumental task to pick up all the rubbish that racegoers left strewn around Flemington, and punters would be nursing some very sore heads on Wednesday morning. Check out some of the aftermath of the Melbourne Cup carnage here:
Mark Zahra makes history with Melbourne Cup triumph
Jockey Mark Zahra made it back-to-back Cup victories, winning aboard Without a Fight after steering Gold Trip to victory last year. It marked the first time in 44 years that a jockey has won consecutive Melbourne Cups on different horses.
Remarkably, Zahra opted against hopping back on Gold Trip this year because he fancied Without a Fight's chances more. He also won the Caulfield Cup last month and completed the double on Tuesday.
He became the ninth jockey in history to win the Cup in successive years, and the first since Glen Boss steered Makybe Diva to a famous hat-trick in 2003-2005. Zahra is the first to do so on different horses since legendary jockey Harry White in 1978 and 79.
"Your first one is real elation - you can't really believe that you've actually done it - and this year it's similar elation but you know you can do it," he said after the race. "You go in with a lot more confidence. It's still one of the best feelings in the world but when I crossed the line I was like, 'I told you so. I knew I picked the right horse and I told you I could win it'."
Zahra chose Without A Fight just 10 days before the Cup, hours after he steered Gold Trip to fifth place in the Cox Plate. Weights played a part in the decision, with Gold Trip lugging 58.5kg compared to Without A Fight carrying 56.5kg.
Without a Fight is now the 12th horse in history to do the Caulfield-Melbourne Cup double in one year, giving Zahra two victories in each. "The trophy cabinet's starting to look pretty good," Zahra said.
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