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Wet track not ideal for Waller camp in Rough Habit

Fri 14 May 2021

By Glenn Davis

A wet track is not ideal for Chris Waller's army, however the leading trainer is still hopeful of landing a fourth Rough Habit Plate at Doomben on Saturday.

A heavy downpour on Wednesday afternoon forced a track downgrade to a Heavy 9 but with predicted fine weather, it is on the improve and was upgraded to a Heavy 8 on Friday.

Waller accepted with six horses for the Group 3 feature over 2000 metres, but has scratched Achiever who was placed behind stablemate Senor Toba in the Group 3 Packer Plate at Rosehill last month.

Senor Toba spearheads Waller’s drive for another Rough Habit Plate victory following his previous wins with Hawkspur (2012), Sadler’s Lake (2014) and Mackintosh in 2013.

Stable foreman Brett Killion, who now heads up the Gold Coast satellite stable, is wary of the wet track for Senor Toba - the ruling $3.30 favorite.

Killion spent 16 years as foreman for Gai Waterhouse, and has worked for Patinack Farm on the Gold Coast as well as Godolphin.

“Senor Tabor is our best chance and he’s done well since his Packer Plate win,” Killion said.

“He’s done everything right since he’s been here but a heavy track is not ideal.

“We scratched him from the Queensland Guineas last month once the track was downgraded.”

Killion said all five runners were on trial for the Group 1 Queensland Derby over 2400 metres at Eagle Farm on June 12.

“We’ve got more than half the field in the Rough Habit and it’ll probably be the same in both the Queensland Oaks and Queensland Derby,” he said.

Senor Toba - a son of Toronado - rocketed into Derby contention with a brilliant last to first win in the Packer Plate on April 24.

However, his wet track record stands at two starts for no placings.

He finished fourth and was beaten more than six lengths on a soft track on debut at Sale in January and beat only two home on a Heavy 9 over 1400 metres on the Kensington track in Sydney back in March.

“He was very impressive coming from last in the Packer Plate and is a nice horse but I don’t know a lot about our Sydney horses yet,” Killion said.

“Senor Toba is only lightly raced and has won two of his four starts with his other win at Moonee Valley in Melbourne.

“He’s going on to the Derby all going well.”

Killion believed Fortified had the best wet track form of his stable’s runners but conceded he faced a steep class rise following his narrow win ahead of the Kevin Kemp-trained Linthorpe Lad over 1845 metres at Eagle Farm on May 5.

“This is a big jump in grade for him but he should shape up okay,” he said.

“It was a solid win and he’s been allowed to mature and hasn’t been rushed.”

Fortified has started five times for two wins, including his last start win on a soft track and a Class 2 placing on a Heavy 10 at the Gold Coast in April.