Ad Mark Twain winning over 2100 metres at Te Rapa (Race Images PN)

Kiwi stayer to chase Cup start

27 March 2024 Written by Racing & Sports

A ballot exemption to the Melbourne Cup is offered to the winner of The Roy Higgins at Flemington.

New Zealand trainer Roger James and Robert Wellwood are sending their stayer Mark Twain to Melbourne to get an idea of where the emerging stayer sits. 

The four-year-old son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking runs in The Roy Higgins, a 2600m Listed race at Flemington on Saturday. 

On offer for the victor is a ballot exemption into this year's Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington. 

"Wouldn't that be wonderful," James told RSN. 

Mark Twain has raced 11 times, registering three wins. 

As a three-year-old, Mark Twain finished fourth in the New Zealand Derby (2400m) behind Sharp 'N' Smart who had run second in the Victoria Derby prior to that victory, following up to run fourth in the Australian Derby at Randwick

A New Zealand summer campaign saw Mark Twain score over 2100m at Te Rapa last month while at his most recent outing the gelding finished third in the Auckland Cup (3200m) on March 9. 

James said Mark Twain had continued to work well and said the stable was using Saturday's race to get a line on the gelding, while at the same time conceding it will be a tougher contest than what he has been racing against. 

"For an emerging stayer, you could not have wanted him to work any better," James said. 

"He's in wonderful order. He's a beautifully athletic horse. He doesn't carry any extra. He goes in a lovely, relaxed manner and I think the Flemington straight will really suit him. 

"We're going to get a line on him. 

"It's about three rungs up on what he has been meeting, but he does have the ability and at the end of a staying race to quicken markedly and that can put a lot of horses in trouble. 

"It's a learning curve, but if it works out it will be wildly exciting for everybody concerned."