Cropp ends drought

It took a long trip south for Cambridge apprentice Matthew Cropp to end a 12-month drought.

Cropp, who is apprenticed to Ralph Manning, has mixed jumps and flat riding since he emerged on the scene five years ago and it was in the role as a jumps jockey that he celebrated a long-overdue win when scoring on the Paul Richards-trained Suspend Us in the Ron Williamson Otago Hurdle at Wingatui last Sunday.

“I just put my name on the noms, hoping I’d get a ride, and Paul rang up to put me on Suspend Us,” said Cropp. “I know it’s a long way to go, but Paul is a good trainer and I knew he wouldn’t be running the horse if he didn’t think it had a chance.”

Suspend Us had raced 16 times on the flat with a couple of minor placings to his credit. He had been sent to the Richards’ stable earlier this year to develop into a jumper and last Sunday’s event was his first start over hurdles.

“Paul was a bit surprised how well he went,” said Cropp. “He told me the horse was there to get some experience and for him to teach him things. He wasn’t expecting him to win. He went well and I think he’ll make a reasonable jumper. Paul is not going to rush him.”

Cropp (21), who completes his apprenticeship on October 6 this year, has ridden 27 winners and his previous winner before Suspend Us was Cracka Crown at Wanganui on June 14 last year. “I’ve had quite a few seconds between times and a few on them have been unlucky not to win,” he said.

It’s no surprise for Cropp to be snapped up by Richards as he has enjoyed much success on past South Island trips. “I’ve had a lot of help and support from trainers down south,” he said.

Cropp’s biggest win came in the 2010 Grand National Hurdles when he scored by 22 lengths on Joint Effort for Mossburn trainer Allan Stalker. Within the space of three months he was unbeaten in four rides on Joint Effort, including an eight-length win in the Sydenham Hurdles at Riccarton.

“It was a bit of a fluke I got to ride Joint Effort,” recalled Cropp. “I had never gone to the South Island before and decided to ring up for a ride at Riccarton. I saw there was no rider for Joint Effort and rang Allan, but he said he was sorted. Then he rang back later and said the ride had become available.

“I won on her that day (in May 2010) and didn’t ride her in the next few and she didn’t go any good, then I got back on and won again. I ended up sticking with her.”

After completing a hat trick of wins when taking the Grand National Hurdle, Joint Effort and Cropp finished fourth in the Great Northern Hurdle at Ellerslie.

“She was a good mare for me,” said Cropp. “I’m looking to go back down for the Grand National meeting this year. I’ll keep going down south when I can and hopefully pick something up for the Nationals.”

Cropp will head south on Thursday week to again ride Suspend Us, at the Oamaru meeting.

“I’m going to concentrate on riding over fences,” he said. “It’s been too much of a struggle with my weight to keep riding on the flat. Besides, I love riding over fences more than on the flat.”