WHEN Gabbys Reason held on to win by a neck at Parkes on New Year's Eve, it was a result which meant more than just saluting with a favourite for driver Nathan Hurst.
It marked the 600th time Hurst had driven a winner.
The milestone comes more than 20 years after the Eglinton trainer-driver enjoyed his maiden win in the gig. Over that period he was sidelined more than once with injury, he won at Group level and in Listed Classics and he devoted more hours than he could begin to count working his team.
For Hurst, who reached his 600 milestone as a trainer in October last year, it was a moment to enjoy.
"I was pretty excited about that," he said.
"It's nice to get these milestones, it's a lot of work, a pretty constant sort of job - you've got it all day, every day pretty much.
"So it's nice to get to something like that and have something for all the work you put into it. That's why you do it, to get winners and enjoy it."
It was his father Kevin Hurst who lured Nathan into the harness racing industry, the father-son combination having enjoyed plenty of success over the years with horses they've trained, bred and driven.
Nathan Hurst's first win as a driver came on July 8, 2000 at the old Bathurst Showground Paceway aboard Tulhurst Dreamer. He still recalls the run which saw her finish 10 metres clear of her rivals.
"I definitely do remember it," he said of his maiden win.
"Tulhurst Dreamer was the horse as a two-year-old, it was having its first start and managed to get a win at Bathurst. I think she was around 10-1 or something like that.
"It was after 40 drives which is probably why I remember it. She was a mare we bred and we are still racing her daughters and grand-daughters, it was good to win on her."
Hurst nominates Saloon Passage as the best horse he has driven over the past two decades.
The son of Elsu won 34 of his 132 starts and handed Hurst his first win at Group level in 2016 at Menangle Park when taking out the Group 3 Tabcorp Park at Club Menangle Final. That run featured a 27.5 seconds final sectional.
While that was a moment which rates highly in Hurst's driving career, it is not the victory he most relished. The effort of then six-year-old mare Tulhurst Kiss in winning a sprint feature at Parkes on New Year's Eve 2008 as a $17.90 chance tops the list.
"We won a feature with Tulhurst Kiss one night at Parkes when she beat Karloo Mick, that was probably my favourite drive," Hurst said, his mare having won by 2.9m as she led from start to finish.
"It was a good race on New Year's, so that race was pretty special.
"Saloon Passage is probably the best horse I've driven just in front of her, but we bred her and everything and she's still here as well, so she's pretty special to us.
"We still have her, she's had a few foals, but she's really hard to get in foal. She's only had three or four foals and they haven't been any champions, but they've won a couple of races."