Andrew Gibbons hoped to get close to 1000 career winners this season so he could tick off that achievement the following campaign.
Halfway through the 2018-19 season, Gibbons is quickly running out of goals as he approaches the Championships on a career-best run.
The 40-year-old hoop went to 1001 wins, and 86 for the season, with a double at Tamworth on Monday for his boss, Kris Lees. He sits fourth on the Australian premiership and second in NSW, just 6.5 wins behind Greg Ryan.
His previous best season was 79 winners and with almost six months remaining this campaign, Gibbons was focused on going well beyond his maiden century.
“I knew at the start of the season I was 915 and a half, and I said to my girlfriend, I’d love to get close enough to that this season so I can knock it off next season,” Gibbons said.
“But to do it so quick is surprising and pretty pleasing. I've gone past my best season, I’ve got the 1000 and I’ve just got to knock off the 100 now. I haven’t got a number after that, I’m just going to see where I can get to.
“I’m not having any time off. I’m just going to keep the head down and keep working hard. If I can match this first six months, there’s no reason I can’t ride 150.”
The increasing success of Lees, who has 126 winners nationwide and 111 in NSW already this season, has no doubt helped Gibbons, but the Chisholm-based jockey has also benefited from going the extra mile.
“My first 10 or 15 years I probably did the wrong thing,” he said. “As an apprentice I didn’t go to the country because I was with a good provincial trainer [Noel Mayfield-Smith] and then a city trainer [Bryan Guy] who both didn’t take many to the country, so I just stuck with them.
“It was probably a big boo-boo not spending at least six months in the bush. When I came out of my time, I didn’t have those country contacts to be riding a big number of winners.
“The first half of my career I was riding only 30, 40 winners a year. I was getting plenty of rides but the quality wasn’t as good because I didn’t have the backing. I’ve built that up and obviously linking with Kris the last seven, eight years, the numbers have gone up quick.”
Gibbons hopes to capitalise on his purple patch in the NSW provincial and country championships, which feature 12 $150,000 heats.
“Kris will have plenty of numbers for the provincial heats, and the country championship heats are looking like a bit of fun this year,” he said. “Normally I’m chasing just to get something in the races, but it’s been fantastic. In the Mid North Coast and Hunter areas, I’ve actually got quite a few options.”
“I’ve been able to sit on the fence, wait, and pick and choose. It’s been good.
“I’ve actually got Wayne Wilkes’ horse Lucciola Belle, which I won the Queen of the North on the other day, and quite a few options for the one at Tamworth.
“And yesterday I got offered a very good ride in the Mudgee heats, so it’s pretty exciting times.”