By HARRY CLARKE

It was a thrilling finish. TAB radio announcer Tony Clements described the mad dash to the finishing post in the 2020 Royal On 99 Roma Cup, as one that “stirred the soul”.

Grey gelding Scrabble held off a big kick from favourite Eschielle to win the richest race in the west by a nose, earning him a start in the Country Cups Challenge and bringing the 8-year-old’s total prize money over $200,000.

Trainer Matt Kropp now has two runners in the feature race at Doomben on December 12, with Splitz having qualified from its recent win at Blackall.

“Both horses have the same owners – Rob Picking and his mates from Brisbane,” Kropp said.

“They just buy nice, tried horses and bring them out here because they love country racing.

“It’s great to get the win. We knew he could handle the track, he had a good weight, and with Gary (jockey, Gary Geran) on him and a good gate (Barrier 1), he just had a lot going for him.

“Gary only needs half a chance and he’ll give them a peach. You usually get an idea if you’re a chance at the 600m mark at Roma, and we were cruising.”

Toowoomba horse trainer Matt Kropp with Royal on 99 Roma Cup winner Scrabble

It was the second Roma Cup win for jockey Gary Geran.

Twelve years after he won on Try Some Magic, Geran steered Scrabble into a prime position early in the race, and let the horse do the rest from the 700m mark.

“The favourite kicked very strongly. We only just got him on the line,” Geran said.

“We had the right run to win the race, and he did it all.

“It’s always a thrill to win this race because horses are set for this race throughout the year, and people really get a real buzz out of it.”

Gary Geran on Scrabble pips favourite Eschielle at the post in the 2020 Royal on 99 Roma Cup.

The Cup was Kropp’s third win for the day, while fellow Toowoomba trainer Mark Currie had a big win in the McInness Wilson Lawyers 1200m 0-55 Handicap.

Jockey Angela Jones brought 7-year-old gelding Unresolved home six lengths ahead of the Chinchilla-trained Ozark and Kropp’s Done It Again.

The last race was the 1000m XXXX Dry Country Stampede Qualifier, won by high profile Scone-based trainer Brett Cavanough with Another Sin, ridden by Les Tilley.

Angela Jones rides Mark Currie’s Unresolved to a six-length victory in the McInnes Wilson Lawyers 1200m 0-55 Handicap.
(L-R) Brooke Conway, Toowoomba trainer Mark Currie, strapper Nathan Evans and jockey Angela Jones celebrate Unresolved’s victory in the McInnes Wilson Lawyers 1200m 0-55 Handicap.

Roma Turf Club vice president and local trainer Craig Smith said the success of runners from larger regional racing centres reflected the prestige of Roma Cup day.

“That’s the quality of horses you’ve got on this day. Your normal bush horses are just not up to the standard. It’s a TAB meeting and they’ve got to be good horses to win,” Smith said.

“It’s quite a big turnout. They come from near and far for this race meeting and they’ve done so again today.

“It’s twelve months’ planning. We’ll soon start planning again for next year’s Roma Cup.

“It’s a great social day for the people of the town and the town benefits from it.

“The racing is great and the prize money is the best in western Queensland for the year. It culminates here.”

(L-R) Royal On 99 representative Greer Doig, Roma Turf Club vice president Craig Smith, and RAB radio announcer Tony Clements
Father and son jockeys Ross and Les “Bubba” Tilley

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