By Glenn Davis
The opening leg of the Cannonball Series gets underway at Gatton on Friday with Toowoomba hobby trainer Eric Ropiha confident of success with Teeroys Tribute.
The Cannonball Series comprises three heats and a final with Toowoomba hosting the second heat, a $16,000 Benchmark 75 Handicap (870m) on November 10.
The final heat, a Benchmark 75 Handicap (800m) will be run at Ipswich on November 21 followed by the $30,000 Cannonball Series Final (800m) at Kilcoy on December 1.
A $10,000 bonus also is on offer for any horse who wins two heats and the final.
Ropiha, 58, gained his trainers’ licence in 2001 and is best known for his Listed race successes with former top sprinters, Osca Warrior, Lucky Luna and Strange Conflict.
Osca Warrior has won several Stakes races during his career in the 2002 Listed Recognition Stakes and Listed Ascot Handicap as well as the Listed Glasshouse Handicap in 2003 while Lucky Luna gave him his second Listed Glasshouse Handicap victory in 2009.
“I also trained Strange Conflict which won The Metropolitan at Eagle Farm when it was a Listed race in 2003,” Ropiha said.
Ropiha was born the same year his father, Eric Ropiha senior, won the 1960 Caulfield Cup with Ilumquh on his way to running third to Hi Jinx in the Melbourne Cup that year.
Ropiha combines training three horses with his occupation as a cleaner at St Andrew’s hospital in Toowoomba.
He and wife Sally own a 50 per cent share in Teeroys Tribute whose career has been limited to 15 starts for five wins and six placings.
“He’s had a lot of soundness problems throughout his career which is one of the reasons he only has a few runs each campaign,” Ropiha said.
“By spacing his runs out and backing off him we haven’t had many problems with him,” he said.
Teeroys Tribute hasn’t raced for four months since going down by a short neck to the Ben Currie-trained Isis Magic in a Benchmark 75 race at Toowoomba on July 1 which followed a first-up win at Toowoomba on June 3.
His first up record stands at four wins and three placings from seven starts.
“He’s drawn barrier one and goes best fresh and will be very competitive,” Ropiha said.
“Hopefully he can win this and then the second leg so he qualifies for the Cannonball Final.”
Racing Queensland webnews October 25