Popular Australasian galloper Rough Habit has died in New Zealand at the age of 28.
“Roughie”, who started 74 times for 29 wins and more than $NZ5 million in stakes, died at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge this morning after having hoof problems, according to The Informant.
Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge said Roughie died with his best mate by his side, the standardbred Christopher Vance, another big race winner. Rough Habit’s death came less than three weeks after that of his part-time stable-mate Veandercross, who died at the age of 26.
Roughie enjoyed a long retirement at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge, where he was the star turn of their horse shows.
An 11-time Group One winner, Rough Habit was trained by John Wheeler and raced in Australia from the age of three to eight. He numbered the Queensland Derby, Stradbroke Handicap (twice) and the Doomben Cup (three times) among his wins. In all, he won 21 features, from 1400m to 2400m on a variety of tracks. He was narrowly beaten in the 1994 Cox Plate by Solvit.
He 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.
In 2006 he was among a group of legendary Kiwi racehorses who were immortalised on a set of stamps, joining Kiwi, Bonecrusher and Horlicks, and harness horses Blossom Lady and Il Vicolo.
By the Noholme sire Roughcast (USA) and out of the Ashabit (Habitat) mare Certain Habit, Rough Habit was bred in the Hawke’s Bay by Isabel Roddick.
Rough Habit and Veandercross (Crossways [Habitat] x Lavender [Super Gray]), who was regularly in Wheeler’s care when he crossed the Tasman from his Wanganui base, provided Wheeler with a memorable quinella in the Gr.1 Mackinnon Stakes with Veandercross’ victory coming between second placings in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups of 1992.
Along with his Gr.1 Cox Plate winner Poetic Price, Wheeler rated Rough Habit and Veandercross as the best horses he has trained and always championed their individual qualities, rather than rate them in any particular order.