Gold Trip horse racing jockey Zahra relishes ‘day of redemption’ with Melbourne Cup win

MELBOURNE, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Mark Zahra was drowning his sorrows a year ago after missing a race on the Melbourne Cup winner, but on Tuesday the local jockey savored redemption as Gold Trip claimed victory in “the race that stops the nation”. “.

Zahra, 40, was due to ride Verry Elleegant in Flemington last year but had to give up the seat when she was suspended for three months for partying with jockeys at an Airbnb rental in violation of COVID-19 protocols. 19.

James McDonald ended up riding the champion mare to victory as a heartbroken Zahra wallowed thousands of miles away in Byron Bay, a tourist spot in upstate New South Wales.

“At this time last year I was in Byron Bay and I was called out for drinking too much,” Zahra said after winning the two-mile handicap in Flemington on Tuesday. Read more

“I felt bad and I was drinking to get by and (my wife) was like, ‘Don’t drink too much’. I said, ‘What do you want me to do? My horse has just won the Melbourne Cup. ‘

“It could have been my turn. (It’s) redemption day today. It’s a miracle.

“For today ahead…it’s just amazing.”

Zahra’s first Melbourne Cup triumph came after piloting Gold Trip, prepared by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, to a second place behind Durston in last month’s Caulfield Cup, one of the country’s most prestigious races.

Rated an 18/1 chance of winning the A$8m ($5.14m) Melbourne Cup, Gold Trip was saddled with the maximum weight of 57.5kg on a rain-softened track , but held off Emissary in a thrilling sprint before going a length and a half clear.

Just after the race, Zahra said he was nervous about pushing the horse too soon.

“I literally thought I was a little far out here but my only plan was not to get too close because I thought if I spent fuel early I would be a little behind,” he said. from the saddle.

“The last 50 meters, I was thinking…. ‘I’m going to win this!’

“It’s just gone forever the last bit.”

Zahra paid tribute to her grandfather, a “mad gambler” who introduced her to horse racing.

“I have to shout out to mum, dad and everyone in Western Australia,” he added.

“If they hadn’t had a heart attack, they would be going crazy right now.

“I’m sure they’re having a party somewhere and they’re drinking a lot of champagne. Drink some for me.”

($1 = 1.5552 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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