Somervell’s wish for Derby day

Don’t be surprised to see Lee Somervell dancing around outside over the next week. And if you wonder what he’s doing, it’ll be the rain dance.

The Cambridge trainer, like the majority of his counterparts, is praying for rain to boost horses’ chances, in his sake particularly TV3 NZ Derby candidate Addictive Habit.

“I’m in the same boat as others with the drought conditions up this way,” said Somervell. “You’ve just got to accept it, but I’d love to see some rain. We need it badly and I hope we get it before the Derby.”

The Group I $750,000 TV3 NZ Derby (2400m) is at Ellerslie on Saturday week and Addictive Habit is currently at $41 on the Fixed Odds TAB betting, but his odds are sure to tumble if the Ellerslie track becomes rain-affected.

Addictive Habit, a close relative to the champion Rough Habit, has won once from 10 starts and that was in his debut as a late juvenile on a heavy track at Tauranga. He followed up with a close second, again on a heavy track, in the Listed Brancott Estate Ryder Stakes at Otaki.

He began this season with a second on a slow track and after three runs on good footing he struck slow going again at Ellerslie for the Gr.2 Stella Artois Great Northern Guineas (1600m) and finished second to the smart filly Habibi. He also chased her home when second in the Gr.2 Sound Championship Stakes (2100m), on good ground and in his first start beyond 1600.

Hard ground has been against him in his latest two starts, resulting in a sixth in the Gr.3 H.S. Dyke Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa and a ninth in the Gr.2 Falls Restaurant Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie last Saturday.

“He also didn’t jump out that well last time and got too far back,” said Somervell. “He was doing his best work at the finish, but had too much ground to make up.”

Somervell says he wasn’t sure about running Addictive Habit in the Avondale Guineas. “I was slightly tempted not to run because of the hard track, but you’ve still got to get the mileage into them,” he said. “If the rain comes I’m confident he’ll be a good chance in the Derby. The distance won’t worry him and he’s had the mileage.”

Andrew Calder will again ride Addictive Habit in the NZ Derby, then head to Macau.

Meanwhile, Somervell is also looking for some easing of the ground for his stable star, Fleur de Lune.

Fresh from her Group One triumph in the Sistema Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, Fleur de Lune finished a game fifth behind Final Touch in the Group I Waikato Draught Sprint at Te Rapa.

“She got to the front at the top of the straight and really she’s only got a 200-metre sprint and she just couldn’t last,” said Somervell. “She’s come through it well and will run at Ellerslie on the sixth (March) in the Group Three Westbury Classic. It’s over 1400 metres and should suit her.”

Fleur de Lune’s main aim is the Group I $200,000 Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha on April 6. She was third in the event two years ago and just beaten by Say No More last year.

“I could give her an exhibition gallop beforehand, just like I did last year,” said Somervell.