Roughie recognised in Coupland’s Mile win


Addictive Habit (Danielle Johnson) beating Nashville and Silverdale in today's Gr. 2 Coupland's Bakeries Mile. (Photo: Race Images, Chch).

Addictive Habit (Danielle Johnson) beating Nashville and Silverdale in today’s Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile. (Photo: Race Images, Chch).

Cambridge trainer Lee Somervell was almost in tears today as he watched Addictive Habit produce the perfect send-off for his close relative, the champion Rough Habit, in the Gr. 2 $230,000 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile at Riccarton.

In the hands of the premiership leader Danielle Johnson, Addictive Habit raced on the pace and after taking over early in the run home from Albany Reunion he held on gamely to win by a head from the fast-finishing Nashville.

“It’s unbelievable,” said an almost breathless Somervell when interviewed immediately after Addictive Habit’s win at odds of better than 22/1.

“It’s right to say this is a very addictive habit with this horse and for him to win a few days after his close relative Rough Habit died. He’s a great horse to rise to the occasion.

“I’m so pleased for Isabel Roddick and her husband who bred him in Hastings and also, of course, bred Rough Habit.”

Rough Habit died last Friday at the age of 28 at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge (the property from which Somervell trains and lives), leaving behind many great memories of his wonderful career which saw him include 11 Group One races in his 29 wins.

“Roughie,” as he was commonly known, earned more than $NZ5 million in stakes during a racing career in which he was trained by John Wheeler.

He raced in Australia from the age of three to eight and his wins in the Queensland Derby, Stradbroke Handicap (twice) and the Doomben Cup (three times) saw him become a Queensland hero. His last-to-turn Stradbroke win is rated as one of the greatest performances seen on a Queensland racetrack.

Rough Habit was New Zealand Horse of the Year in 1992 and 1995, and in 2012 he was inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame. He was a close second to Solvit in the Cox Plate.

Jim Cassidy rode Rough Habit in 12 of those wins and believes the son of Roughcast was “every bit a champion.”

“If he was a human being he would have been Prime Minister of New Zealand,” Cassidy told Australian media. “He put me on the map, him and (trainer) Johnny Wheeler. They helped my career skyrocket.

“His Doomben Cups, his Stradbrokes, his wins in Sydney, his wins in Melbourne. He’s one of my top three.

“It brought a tear to my eye hearing (he had died) for what he helped me achieve.

“To win in New Zealand, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, two trips to Japan, one to America and come back to Australia and still win at Group 1 level, you tell me a horse that’s done that. There wouldn’t be one.

“He was a freak. He had a great will to win. He wasn’t the prettiest horse, he had that white eye, but by geez, he took me a long way in life.

“He was the apple of my eye, Roughie.”

Rough Habit retired to Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge (where he has been buried) and for two decades he was the star act at the property’s Horse Expo tourist attraction, which Somervell manges and operates.

Having had so much to do with “Roughie” throughout his retirement, Somervell treasured the champion and to enjoy Group Two success with his close relation Addictive Habit rates among his career highlights.

Addictive Habit’s dam, Chasing The Habit, is a Sky Chase half-sister to Rough Habit, and even before today Addictive Habit showed he had inherited some of “Roughie’s” talent.

The son of Colombia had recorded six wins and nine placings from 24 starts going into the Coupland’s Mile and that record could be even better as he was relegated from first-equal in the Listed Woods Group Taumarunui Gold Cup at Te Rapa on July 5.

As a three-year-old, Addictive Habit’s performances included Group Two seconds to Habibi in the Stella Artois Great Northern Guineas and The Sound Championship Stakes.

Addictive Habit picked up a hat trick of wins though July, August and September before finishing 10th in the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic at Hastings. He started just once between the Livamol Classic and Coupland’s Bakeries Mile when eighth at Te Rapa.

It was a fine training achievement by Somervell to have Addictive Habit in top form today. But Somervell admits he was a bit worried about the firmer track.

“We didn’t get the rain we thought but she (Danielle) said it (the track) is nothing like the hard track he struck on the last day at Hastings,” said Somervell.

“It was just a wonderful ride by Danielle. Gosh, he’s wonderful. He’s got a heart like a tiger. What a time to do it.”

“Roughie” is gone, but the winning habit is still in the family. Somervell believes there is more major race success in store for Addictive Habit, but on a sentimental score it will be hard to better today’s result.