WHEN it comes to working with race horses, Matt Kropp has found himself in some good surrounds.
Early jobs with Sydney trainers Vic Thompson and Bill Mitchell, a stint in New Zealand and a taste of English racing are all on his CV.
But it's an 84-kilometre shift down the highway from Dalby to Toowoomba that's landed him in the place he wants to be now.
Kropp became one of Queensland racing's quiet achievers during his 20 years based at Dalby's Bunya Park.
But late last year he carried through with a career goal to shift his racing stable to Clifford Park which at the time was undergoing major reconstruction works.
Last Saturday Kropp christened that move when Bush Caviar handed him his first win on the recently reopened Toowoomba track as he settles into the new surrounds of Clifford Park.
"We brought horses in here during the 2010 and 11 floods when Steve Tregea was kind enough to let us use his stables on-course here," Kropp said.
"It opened my eyes at the time to what a good place it is to train and that's when I first started thinking seriously about a full-time move in here."
Kropp grew up in Brisbane where his father and uncle had an interest in racing.
He spent his early working life with Elders as a livestock auctioneer but his interest in horses eventually led him into the thoroughbred industry.
"I worked with Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm and Bill Mitchell at Randwick and later in stables in New Zealand and England," Kropps aid.
"Back home in Queensland I worked for Des Burns at Ipswich and when Des moved to Dalby I came with him."
Walmar Lad scored at Oakey in 1985 to give Kropp his first winner as a hobby trainer.
Kropp worked with Telstra after moving to Dalby and trained part-time for eight years before setting up a full-time stable.
"I rode all my own work early on before we picked up Leeanne McCoy and Melanie Price as apprentices," Kropp said.
"Dalby is a good place to train and we had our share of luck with horses like Leather, Uncle Jan and Nepro who all managed to win three Saturday races each in Brisbane.
"But I thought when there was an opportunity to move here last year, it was the time to grab it.
"The climate, the facilities and the club here all lend themselves to giving yourself the best chance to move ahead.
"Kate (Gardner) looks after the spellers and pre-trainers at Dalby while we keep around 20 horses in work here at Toowoomba.
"We've got two apprentices - Naoki Ogura and Brendon Newport - with us and hopefully we can establish ourselves here over the next 12 or 18 months."