Somervell chasing deserved success in features

Somervell Lee 7810s (427x640)

Cambridge trainer Lee Somervell is hot on the black-type trail tomorrow with runners in the $50,000 feature events at both Otaki and Te Rapa and nobody could begrudge him success in either contest.

Somervell (pictured) will be represented at Te Rapa in the Listed Woods Contracting Taumarunui Gold Cup by joint topweight Celebrity Miss, the mount of Trudy Thornton, while down at Otaki his focus will be on Impulsive Habit (Sam Spratt) in the Listed Courtesy Ford Ryder Stakes.

Somervell was denied victory in the Taumarunui Cup two years ago when Addictive Habit was relegated to second behind Wanabefamous after initially deadheating in the event, which was then held at Te Rapa.

As for the Ryder Stakes, Somervell has had to settle for two second placings and a third in the last four years so deserves a change of luck.

Stradivarius was runner-up in last year’s Ryder Stakes, going down a length to Secret Spirit, while three years earlier Somervell lined up two starters in the Levin Racing Club feature and finished second with Addictive Habit and third with Kapsboy. Addictive Habit went down a half-neck.

“We’ve had a bit of luck without winning it (the Ryder Stakes),” said Somervell. “I find it’s a really good lead-up before they start their three-year-old career. If they can place in that race it stands them in really good stead if you do think they’re good enough to carry on for the guineas and those sort of races.”

So does Somervell believe Impulsive Habit has the class to carry on to bigger goals in the new season?

“I’ve got a lot of time for this horse,” he said. “He’s got a lot of raw talent. He’s still to put it all together yet, but he’s got so much natural ability. I’m just hoping he can run in the first three.

“The horse of Lisa Latta’s (Manhattan Street), who has won his last two, is a really good horse and, of course, is experienced. My fellow lacks experience but he certainly doesn’t lack ability.”

Impulsive Habit, a son of Echoes Of Heaven, will be having just his second start and has looked very promising with a trials win preceding his debut second to Bella Goia at Te Rapa early this month.

Somervell is quietly confident Impulsive Habit can take the step up from the Ryder Stakes to be a realistic guineas prospect next season.

“He has got terrific potential,” he said. “I would miss the Wanganui Guineas but hopefully he shows enough (tomorrow) to be good enough to go for the Hawke’s Bay Guineas.”

Impulsive Habit is from a family Somervell knows so well and one which has already brought him memorable success.

He is from Special Habit, who won three races, including a couple at Hastings, and his second dam, Bella’s Habit, is a half-sister to the great Rough Habit. Though Somervell didn’t train either Special Habit or Rough Habit he was closely associated with the latter great galloper during his time in retirement at Cambridge Lodge.

Impulsive Habit’s second dam is also a half-sister to dual Group Three winner and Brisbane Cup placegetter Citi Habit and Chasing The Habit, the dam of Somervell’s Group One star Addictive Habit as well as Gr. 3 Canterbury Gold Cup winner Branson.

Addictive Habit has won last two editions of the Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile for Somervell and climbed to the top when taking last year’s Gr. 1 Livamol Classic, in which stablemate Celebrity Miss was just under a length and a half away in third placing. Addictive Habit’s wins also include last year’s Gr. 2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa.

Not surprisingly, Somervell has been a huge fan of Isabel Roddick’s “Habit” breed and he didn’t hesitate when noticing Impulsive Habit for sale at last year’s Festival Yearling Sale at Karaka. Impulsive Habit had been passed in for $8500 as a weanling at Karaka and was sold to Somervell for $14,000.

“I organised some finance and bought him then thought ‘now what do I do?” said Somervell. “That’s how we came to call him Impulsive Habit. I was able to get a lovely syndicate together for him and it’s all working out very well.”

Somervell also has a soft spot for Celebrity Miss, a daughter of Cambridge Lodge’s resident sire Civics. The five-year-old mare has won seven of her 33 starts and almost $200,000 and rates a big chance tomorrow.

Though she hasn’t won since following her Livamol placing with a win in the Listed Jakkalberry Classic (beating Gr. 1 Easter Handicap winner Ponderosa Miss) at Rotorua last October, her recent form suggests she is near her peak.

She was runner-up over 1600 and 2200 at Ellerslie, the latter placing being behind Storming The Tower in the Cornwall Handicap. She then followed up with a third in the Kiwifruit Cup at Tauranga before dropping back to 1600 when fifth at Te Rapa last start when striking a better track.

Somervell is pleased with Celebrity Miss’ condition going into the Taumarunui Cup, but concerned with her weight.

“Unfortunately because of her high rating she has got the topweight of 60 kilos,” he said. “It makes it so hard when there’s five horses on 53. Seven kilos is a huge amount in that sort of ground.

“But having said that, she’s needed the last couple of runs and she’s ready for this.”

Somervell is looking to give Celebrity Miss a brief spell after the Taumarunui Cup and again concentrate on the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival with the main target being another tilt at the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic.