Mark Twain secures Melbourne Cup start with Roy Higgins win

Mark Twain
Michael Dee returns to scale on Mark Twain after winning the Roy Higgins at Flemington. (Photo by Ross Holburt/Racing Photos)

Roger James & Robert Welwood have topped off their outstanding day with Mark Twain (+850) earning a start in the 2024 Melbourne Cup after a barnstorming finish in the final 400m to claim victory in the Roy Higgins at Flemington.

After finishing third in the Group 2 Auckland Cup (3200m), the son of Shocking made the trip across the ditch to try and earn his spot in the Cup and with a calm ride from Michael Dee, he proved way too strong late.

Major Beel (+2000) made sure the race was run at a strong speed, as he led the field from Gear Up (+650) and Port Guillaume (+25000), while the race favourite Glentaneous (+360) worked his way through the pack to settle behind the leading trio.

However, as the leader kicked away at the top of the home straight, none of the leading division could go with him and it appeared as though Jye McNeil had pinched it, but the swoopers were coming fast by the 200m mark.

Mark Twain, Strawberry Rock (+1000) and Mostly Cloudy (+650) ascended on the leader and it was the Kiwi runner on the outside that would get his head down on the line and claim the golden ticket into the race that stops the nation.

2024 Listed Roy Higgins Quality Replay – Mark Twain

Roger James was on course to witness the big win and he spoke post-race.

“I can hardly believe that this horse did that today,” James said of the winner.

“At the 600 (metre mark) I have all but given up hope.

“He was flat catching the second horse.

“The big expanse of Flemington has helped him. A mighty staying effort.

“It was a bottomless track that day (in the ATC Derby) and other than that he has hardly ever blotted his copybook and no doubt that staying is the name of his game, and big tracks.

“That we have a golden ticket makes it a lot easier.”

Michael Dee produced two perfectly timed swooping rides on Australian Cup Day, and he spoke about the win on Mark Twain post-race.

“To be honest, I was just trying to get him around the track. We’re here at Flemington and he wanted to hang out on me the whole way and I didn’t have a lot of steering in the straight,” Dee said.

“Once he finally changed legs and balanced up in the straight, that was when you saw that turn-of-foot.

“It was a super effort but he didn’t give me the easiest of rides.

“He’s certainly an out-and-out stayer but he is a difficult horse. He can pull and reef and tear but I was able to manage that.

“He was wanting to get on one rein so he’s certainly got great staying ability and we definitely saw it then.”

Mark Twain is a +2500 chance in 2024 Melbourne Cup futures markets with online bookmakers.

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