By Glenn Davis
Toowoomba trainer Matt Kropp is hoping a favourable weight turnaround in the Eagle Way Stayers Series Final will set in stone a Queensland Derby path for Trusty Lad at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The Eagle Way Stayer Series is named after 2016 Queensland Derby winner Eagle Way and has been run over three heats.
Kropp has ordered a spell for Trusty Lad after he has a return bout with the Tony Gollan-trained A Man To Match in the 2200-metre final for QTIS three-year-olds.
A Man To Match was too strong for Trusty Lad when the pair clashed over 2000 metres at Doomben on December 8.
The winning margin was 3-3/4 lengths but Kropp hopes a 2.5kgs weight turnaround may be enough to turn the tables on A Man To Match.
“It’s a tough race but we’ve had a couple of ordinary draws lately and he’s finally got a decent draw (barrier three),” Kropp said.
“I was quite happy with his last run when he got flushed out earlier than we hoped and had to sustain a long run.
“Like a lot of the others it was his first go at 2000 metres and I’m not worried about him stepping up to 2200 metres.
“It will be interesting to see how he and some of the others handle the extra trip.”
Kropp has long range plans to target the Group 1 Queensland Derby next winter which would easily be the Darlings Downs trainer’s greatest triumph if successful.
“I’ve had a lot of Brisbane winners and the best I’ve had in big races has been a couple of Listed placings,” Kropp said.
“He’s off to the paddock after this run and will come back to prepare for the Queensland Derby.”
Trusty Lad will wear blinkers for the first time when he lines up for only his seventh start.
“He’s worked in blinkers before but I’ve decided put them on in this race because he’s been looking around and I’m hoping the blinkers will keep him more focused,” Kropp said.
Kropp paid $NZ180,000 for Trusty Lad at the Ready To Run sales in New Zealand as a young horse and he’s already returned owners Roland and Sharon Hovey more than $70,0000 in prizemoney.
Kropp rates A Man To Match as the main threat but is not under-estimating his other rivals including the Les Ross-trained Miss Sara who filled the minor placing behind A Man To Match and Trusty Lad last start.
Racing Queensland webnews December 20