Brett Prebble added one more Hong Kong accomplishment to his list at Happy Valley yesterday as he joined an elite band of jockeys to have passed the 500-win mark.
And in keeping with the grand traditions of such moments, it was the humble Class Five galloper Winning Pal who provided that landmark, putting away the fourth race smartly as the middle pin of a Prebble treble that began with Many Gains and ended with Good Boy Boy.
Only Douglas Whyte, Tony Cruz, Basil Marcus, Gary Moore, Felix Cotzee and Gerald Mosse lie ahead of Prebble in Hong Kong racing's order of merit.
'Well, they aren't things you think about but it's nice when they come along,' Prebble said after dominating the day's Jockey Challenge, firming to odds of 1-100 by the halfway mark of the meeting.
Prebble was at his tactical best on Winning Pal for Michael Chang Chun-wai, making a point of getting into clear galloping room, despite a low draw.
'I thought the 1,650m might be a bit on the short side looking at his form, but Olivier Doleuze, who rides him a lot, told Michael he thought a mile would suit him and he was right,' Prebble said.
'I thought looking at his 1,800m run last time that he didn't appreciate going up on the inside of horses so I made sure to becoming around them this time and he won well. He's consistent and got a nice turn of foot for a lower-grade horse and I don't think he'll be out of place in Class Four with no weight.'
Good Boy Boy has been the star of an under-performing season for Paul O'Sullivan, notching his fourth win from nine starts and Prebble predicts a good future for the gelding - if he can learn to relax more in his races.
'I'm helping him in these 1,000m races by just letting him run along and he's doing it on his ability and he's too good for them, but he'll be in Class Two next time and it becomes more difficult to get away with that,' he warned. 'He's got a high cruising speed, but he does need to learn to use his energy in the right spot. That was a pretty good win with the weight and he didn't have it easy. He's got more there but whether he's mentally ready at this stage to show it and take the next step is the question.'
Many Gains is a product of the Caspar Fownes transformation factory and looked potentially another Windicator Returns the way he put them away yesterday to make it two soft wins for his new stable from as many starts.
'I don't know what the difference has been, but Caspar did say he found one or two issues with the horse that he's been able to work on,' Prebble said. 'But his gate speed in these two runs has been terrific. He didn't beat a lot but he did it in pretty good style.'
Around a year ago, Fownes took over Windicator Returns, and the change of scenery turned him into a regular winner. Just this past week, Windicator Returns was retired with a record for Fownes of 17 starts for five wins and seven minor placings, and the trainer has a ready replacement in Many Gains, who showed great promise as a younger horse.
A three-timer helped Brett Prebble extend his season tally to 54, but there's a wide gap between him and champion Douglas Whyte, who is on: 71