Without A Fight the talk of a nation after Lexus Melbourne Cup success

7 November 2023 Written by VRC

A new name has been etched onto the 163-year honour roll of Australia’s greatest race, the Lexus Melbourne Cup, with Mark Zahra racing to victory aboard the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained Without A Fight at Flemington Racecourse today to the cheers of a bumper 84,492 racegoers, a 14.5% increase on 2022 attendance. 

Without A Fight became the 12th winner of Australia’s most prestigious double, joining the likes of Poseidon, Gurner’s Lane, Let’s Elope, Doriemus and Might And Power as a winner of both the Caulfield Cup and Lexus Melbourne Cup. He was the first to complete the brace since Ethereal in 2001.

Sent out a $9 chance by Victorian TAB punters, Without A Fight sprinted clear over the concluding stages to take the prize by two and a quarter lengths over Chris Waller-trained pair Soulcombe and Sheraz.

Zahra became the first jockey since Harry White in 1978 (Arwon) and 1979 (Hyperno) to win the Cup in consecutive years on different horses. As for the Freedmans, the father and son training partnership added a sixth victory for the family, joining the five wins secured by Anthony’s brother Lee with Tawrrific (1989), Subzero (1992), Doriemus (1995) and Makybe Diva (2004, 2005).

It was the highlight on a spectacular day of racing that saw Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young capture training honours with a double to Forgot You in the Listed Furphy Plate (1800m) and Pascero in the Paramount+ Trophy (1400m), while Damien Oliver secured his 25th and final win on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day aboard the Travis Doudle-prepared Wiggum in The Schweppervescence Plate (1000m).

Damien Oliver riding Wiggum wins The Schweppervescence Plate during Melbourne Cup Day. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Tony and Calvin McEvoy recorded a quinella in the Group 3 Darley Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) with Dublin Down and Blue Stratum, before New Zealand Group 1 winner Skew Wiff produced a strong victory in the Group 3 The Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (1400m).

At the conclusion of today’s racing, the Ron Hutchinson Award - presented to the leading jockey over the four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival - is led by James McDonald on 12 points, just ahead of Oliver and Jamie Kah on 11.

In the race for the trainer’s equivalent, the J B Cummings Award, Waller’s placings in the Lexus Melbourne Cup along with his victory in the Penfolds Victoria Derby on Saturday have elevated him to the top of the standings on 14 ahead of James Cummings on 10 and Busuttin and Young on nine.

As always the world-famous Birdcage Enclosure played host to a who’s who of entertainment, sport, business and media including model Adut Akech, racing royalty Kate Waterhouse, social personality Rebecca Harding and former politician Julie Bishop for Lexus, social personality

Mia Fevola and actress Olympia Bellchambers for Penfolds, AFL champion Josh Daicos and former AFLW player Moana Hope for G.H Mumm, actress Francesca Hung and AFL great Joel Selwood and his wife Brit Selwood for Crown, Cricket Legend Michael Clarke for TAB and tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis and social personality Brooke Warne for Schweppes.

Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors, the late Princess Diana’s nieces Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer and Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors including international model and body diversity advocate Georgina Burke, passionate equine enthusiast and young socialite Gemma Owen and Matilda's star Cortnee Vine were also in attendance.

The celebrations continued for the 61st anniversary of Fashions on the Field with The Park coming to life with the most incredible display of flamboyant fashion and colour. Once again the strong calibre of entrants made for hotly contested finals with the Best Dressed winners Holly Keenan, Carle Rutledge and Sammy Smith along with the Best Suited winners Bev Hendry, Domingo Martinez and Nicole Wenske heading straight into the grand final on Kennedy Oaks Day.

The final of the creative and design-led Lillian Frank AM MBE Millinery Award was judged by an international panel of fashion experts including VRC Ambassadors, Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer, Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors Gemma Owen and Georgina Burke and daughter of the late Lillian Frank, Jackie Frank. The award re-named in 2022 to honor the late Melbourne icon, philanthropist and friend of Flemginton, Lillian Frank AM MBE was won by Canberra based milliner and third time winner Cynthia Jones Bryson.

Inspired by Michael Buble’s song Sway, Cynthia took a piece of recycled nylon she found at an op shop and turned it into a winning headpiece that took more than 30 hours to complete.

Macedon in Victoria are $50,000 richer after winning the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour National Sweep, with the money going to Living Legends. The national sweep was introduced by the VRC in 2019 as part of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour and sees 24 rural and regional Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour destinations across Australia allocated a starting gate for ‘the race that stops a nation’™, the 2032 Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Victoria Racing Club Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said that, as custodians of Australia’s greatest race, the Club was proud to take the 163rd ‘race that stops a nation’™ to the world.

“There is no race in Australia - or indeed the world - that is quite like the Lexus Melbourne Cup,” Mr Rosich said. “Another memorable chapter was written today with Mark Zahra’s success aboard Without A Fight for the Freedman family, who have been so synonymous with Australia’s greatest race over the past 35 years.

It was a great representation of everything that makes the Lexus Melbourne Cup such an indelible part of the Australian psyche, and it was thrilling to see a great crowd of 84,492 racegoers there to be a part of it.”

The VRC is also proud to present the community of Macedon with $50,000 after winning the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour National Sweep which will be put towards their nominated charity Living Legends.

Tickets for Kennedy Oaks Day and TAB Champions Stakes Day are still available for members and the general public via Ticketmaster. For more information visit