Mark Twain ready to write himself into history books

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  • April 03, 2023
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Fresh off celebrating one of his biggest successes in his burgeoning training career, Robert Wellwood will head to Randwick on Saturday in a bid to snare more elite-level glory.

The Cambridge horseman was home in New Zealand last Saturday when he watched in awe as stable pin-up Prowess comfortably dispatched of her opponents by 3-1/4 lengths in the Gr.1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.

“She was superb,” said Wellwood, who trains in partnership with Roger James.

“She is very exciting. She came out and looked a chance of winning, but not that well, and when she balanced up it was incredible the way she put them away.

“It is very exciting for the future. Off that performance it looks like she will be able to step-up against the older horses and compete. It will be an exciting winter planning on what we want to do and where we want to head.”

Wellwood ventures to Sydney this weekend where he will saddle up Mark Twain for the A$2 million Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.

The son of Shocking was a last-start fourth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), closing well behind Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who he will meet again on Saturday.

“He has done everything right since the New Zealand Derby and it is nice to see him draw a soft barrier (5) albeit he lets himself down in that he doesn’t always make the best use of a good barrier,” Wellwood said.

“We have got him in nice order and we are very happy with the way he has headed over there.”

Wellwood was pleased with Mark Twain’s New Zealand Derby performance and he is looking forward to watching him step out over the same distance this weekend.

“I thought it was terrific. He ran the fastest last 600m,” he said.

“Unfortunately, he was just locked away on the rail for far too long. He was the last one to get clear air. He just lets himself down a little bit with his racing manners. Hopefully we can alleviate that come Saturday.

“It’s a month between runs but he is going from a mile and a half to a mile and a half again. I think it is perfect. He is a natural staying horse and he is fit and ready.”

While Wellwood will be chasing Derby success on Saturday, closer to home the stable’s Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) hero Pinarello will be competing for further Group success at Awapuni.

The son of Tavistock finished seventh first-up over 1400m at Pukekohe earlier this month and Wellwood said his run in the Gr.2 City Of Palmerston North Awapuni Cup (2000m) this weekend will give his Cambridge trainers a gauge on where to head with the gelding this preparation.

“I thought his run over 1400m was good. He is certainly going to be better suited when he gets up over 2000m like he is this weekend,” Wellwood said.

“He does come up against a good field and horses that are in form. We are going to get a fair idea of exactly where he is at and where we want to head to with him after the weekend.”

Stablemate McGrath will also head south on Saturday where he will be faced with the stiffest test of his career in the Gr.3 Higgins Concrete Manawatu Classic (2000m).

The Savabeel three-year-old was a last start winner over a mile at Otaki but will be met by more seasoned rivals this weekend, including Group One performer Desert Lightning.

“I thought his run was good last time,” Wellwood said. “He has still got a lot to learn. Hopefully he can put it all together on the weekend, but Desert Lightning is going to be terribly hard to beat.

“He is a horse with very good form and we are going in with a horse that is only going to be having his third run.

“If we could see him in the first four or five, I think it would be a very good effort and he is just going to be a better horse with more time.”

The stable’s final runner on the nine-race card will be Urban Myth in The Oaks/Hong Kong JC Trophy (1400m).

“He probably just needed that first-up run fitness-wise, but he has worked nicely heading into this,” Wellwood said。

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