AFTER winning the Melbourne Cup (3200m) for the second year in a row Mark Zahra, who grew up in Glen Forrest, says there is so much elation when crossing the finishing line.
“To win it two years in a row it’s a little bit more subdued the second time around but it still feels so special,’’ he said.
Last year Zahra won the cup on Gold Trip but this year he decided to ride Without A Fight after their win in the Caulfield Cup.
Soulcombe and Sheraz, both trained by Chris Waller – the trainer of Winx – filled the next two places.
After winning the race on the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained Without A Fight, Zahra was asked how he was going to celebrate with family and friends and whether he was going back to Perth.
“You’ve got to get through the week first so my aim is to try and get through to Saturday and then after that you get your best friends and you just have a big dinner, have some drinks and sit around and talk some rubbish,’’ he said.
“I’ll take the cup back to Perth next week (and) have the same ritual as I did last year.
“I really enjoyed last year so I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.”
While visiting his family last year he took the cup to Sacred Heart Primary School and told the students at his former school how important it was to follow their dreams.
From a non-racing family Zahra took on an apprenticeship with trainer Dean White after finishing Year 10 at Middle Swan High School.
According to racingandsports.com.au 41-year-old Zahra had his first ride at Geraldton racecourse in 1998.
“After honing his skills in Western Australia, Zahra completed his apprenticeship with leading handlers Brian Cox and then Tony McEvoy,’’ the website said.
“His first Group 1 victory was on the Jim Conlan-trained Above Deck in the 2006 Doomben Cup.”
Course statistics on racingandsports.com.au show he has had two wins and three places out of 38 rides at Northam and one ride at Toodyay.