Rough Habit a Queensland Favourite

Queenslanders love nothing more than a Queenslander, unless it comes to horseracing and an ugly duckling named Rough Habit.

Rough Habit, who hailed from New Zealand, drew the crowds, won three consecutive Doomben Cups and successive Stradbroke Handicaps and had a race named after him at Doomben.

While he became famous by becoming the first horse to win three Doomben Cups (1991-93), arguably his better wins were across the road at Eagle Farm in the 1990 Queensland Derby, 1991-92 Stradbroke Handicaps and O’Shea Stakes in 1995.

Only five horses have had the stamina to win over the 2400 metres of the Queensland Derby and the brilliance to back it up with a Stradbroke (1400m) victory.

Most are long forgotten – Boreas who won both races in 1898, Fitz-Grafton who did the same five years later and Syce Lad who won the Derby in 1918 and the Stradbroke in 1920.

In the modern day the only other horse to manage the feat was Persian Lyric who claimed the double in 1960-61, 30 years before Rough Habit.

On Saturday, Eagle Farm could turn out more legends when the Stradbroke, Queensland Derby and TJ Smith will be run on the same day for only the second time in history.

Rough Habit won Group One races in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and New Zealand but always seemed to save his best for Queensland’s winter carnival.

He was ridden by Jim Cassidy in his three Doomben Cups and dual Stradbroke victories while a New Zealand rider, Ross Elliott, was aboard him as a three-year-old in the Queensland Derby.

In Queensland, Rough Habit started 21 times in total for 10 wins, six at Group One level, and seven placings.

Nine of those starts were at Eagle Farm where he won five times and was placed twice while the former Brisbane Turf Club named one of their major Derby lead-up races in his honour, the Group Three Rough Habit Plate.

While Rough Habit earned cult status for his winter deeds, the Stradbroke has a history of unearthing other superstars.
Since it was first run in 1890, some turf greats have graced Eagle Farm.

Wiggle etched her name in Stradbroke history with her victory in 1958 and still holds the record of being the only two-year-old to win Queensland’s premier race.

The 1960s produced a host of famous names to win the Stradbroke with Persian Lyric, Kilshery (1962), Mullala (1963), Cele’s Image (1964) and the great Winfreux in 1965.

Divide And Rule, Rajah Sahib and Triton won the famous sprint from 1970-1972 while Queensland’s Daybreak Lover was successful twice in 1984 and 1986.

Bart Cummings is the most successful trainer in Stradbroke history having won it four times with Campaign King (1988), Robian Steel (1989), Never Undercharge (1993) and Dane Ripper (1997).

Dane Ripper was the first three-year-old filly to win the Stradbroke and went on to claim the Group One Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in 1997.

This year’s Stradbroke could unearth another superstar in topweight Whobegotyou or fellow Melbourne galloper Ortensia who will be aiming to become the first mare to win the race since Capris was successful in 1936.

Whobegotyou is the race favourite following his outstanding performance to just fail behind Hot Danish in last month’s Group One Doomben 10,000.

The Mark Kavanagh stable is super confident.

“He worked well on Tuesday with Red Lord from the Anthony Cummings stable who also is in the Stradbroke and he was very impressive,” Kavanagh’s son, Mark, said.

“We’re rapt in the way he’s going and he’s on target for Saturday.

“We wanted to give him a soft preparation after his Cox Plate campaign last year and take things quietly with him.

“Dad wanted him to have only two runs this preparation and he’s cherry ripe.”

Kavanagh is eyeing another Cox Plate campaign in the spring with Whobegotyou who will be reunited with Michael Rodd in the Stradbroke.

Rodd has won a Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, Victoria Derby and a Caulfield Guineas but winning the Stradbroke Handicap on Whobegotyou would eclipse them all.

He served his apprenticeship in Queensland under Gold Coast trainer Bryan Guy and regards the Stradbroke as a special race.

“Every jockey wants to win the biggest races in the country but personally for me, the Stradbroke and Doomben 10,000 are very special,” Rodd said.

“It’s a big time of the year for Queenslanders and having completed my apprenticeship up there I’ve always wanted to win one.”