It might be the greatest moment in Melbourne Cup history or the worst. British owner Dr Marwan Koukash is refusing to back down from his promise to strip down to a g-string if his horse Magic Circle wins the great race on Tuesday.

“When we win – not if we win, when we win – Flemington will see  a more colourful presentation than it’s ever had before and is unlikely to ever have again,” he  declared at the barrier draw  on Saturday evening.

“I’m going to strip down to my g-string, keep my tie and my shoes, and I will get up and receive the trophy.”

While the exact size of Koukash’s fortune is unclear – he’s regularly described as a billionaire, but does not appear in the Sunday Times rich list nor on the billionaire lists of Forbes or Bloomberg – the size of his personality is not in doubt.

But even without the threatened celebration, Dr Koukash’s life story would be enough to make him part of Melbourne Cup folklore.

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He was born in Palestine but was forced to flee at the age of nine and three years later he was a child soldier. His family crossed into Jordan, settled in Kuwait and eventually moved to Britain. Dr Koukash earned his PhD in electrical engineering at Liverpool John Moores University and taught there for five years before eventually starting an education business called EuroMaTech.

He has been training for his potential strip show, and insists his body is “desirable”.

That might be a good thing.

“I think my wife will probably end up divorcing me. But look, it’s easier to find a new wife than win the Melbourne Cup.”

Yucatan, owned by Australian Financial Review Rich List member Lloyd Williams, remains the favourite for the race.

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