The whip flourish began long before the Alexandra Park finishing post - Nicky Chilcott's pent-up emotions unleashed in one career defining statement behind the aptly named Windinherhair.
It was a moment harness fans had awaited for weeks, the Cambridge horsewoman seemingly stranded on 499 wins for an eternity.
And when it finally arrived, appropriately on a feature night when the best from the north and the best from the south clashed in the island of origin driving series, it put not just weeks and months of anguish behind her, but set the seal on a career chiselled from raw determination.
Not even trainer Steve Phillips, nor his wife Anne, who were the first to congratulate Chilcott on becoming the first New Zealand woman to drive 500 winners, knew all the trials and tribulations their driver had overcome to get there.
The stats were plain for all to see - next best Michelle Wallis on 211, Jo Herbert on 193 and Kirstin Barclay on 186 - but the untold story behind them only magnifies the enormity of the milestone.
For it could have been all over before it had barely started.
The May, 1997 crash at Manawatu that saw Chilcott trampled by most of the field, and left her with no feeling in her legs for days, is just a distant memory now.
So too the weeks immobilised in Waikato Hospital in a brace to allow two broken bones in her back to mend, along with her liver, kidney and ribs torn from her spine.
For the girl from Morrinsville who had already endured two operations on her back, including a spinal fusion, it could have been a game-breaker in just her first season as an open driver.
But whoever dealt out those cards didn't bank on the 26-year-old's rare courage.
She wouldn't fetch a bid in the sales ring today for her sometimes lopsided walk. And her telltale bent knees and straight back on picking up her whip signal ongoing problems.
"It's a day-to-day struggle," Chilcott admitted on Friday night. "But, ironically, when I sit in the cart that's when I'm the most pain-free."
Not that Chilcott would ever complain. Just gulp a few painkillers and get on with it.
Incredibly, that regime has recently seen her fall foul of the new super-sensitive Hong Kong testing laboratory, which detected minute traces of her painkiller tramadol in one of her horses.
The case, thought to be caused by contamination from a damaged blister pack when fixing a tongue tie, has yet to be heard.
But if charges are laid she will take that in her stride. Chilcott is used to shouldering setbacks - like the arsenic positive that took the Racing Integrity Unit months to sort - common sense eventually prevailing with the decision not to lay charges against the trainers.
That resilience may explain why she has driven so many more winners than her female peers, many of whom have fallen by the wayside.
"You have to be able to cop the knockbacks and persevere.
"A lot of women have quit. I don't know why female drivers aren't accepted as much as female jockeys. Maybe there are more of the old school in harness who were brought up believing the wife had kids and looked after the home.
"To the younger guys you're just another driver, but there are still some older drivers who don't accept you.
"Female jockeys have the advantage of their natural light weights but we don't have that in the cart. Some trainers might put a girl on if they think she might be a bit kinder, I suppose."
Chilcott says you need a lot of "stickability" to make a career out of driving.
"You don't just wake up one day, be on tele, and drive a racehorse.
"I've put in a lot of hard yards to get drives. I've really chased and worked at it."
When she lost her junior status through studying PE at Otago University, it was tough and she survived only from drives for her trainer-father Graham.
She learned not to be put off telephoning for drives, even when repeatedly knocked back, knowing those calls were often rewarded down the line. "You're sewing seeds in their minds.
"In those early days I'd go down to Taranaki every weekend to drive at trials. There might be only two heats and then you'd turn round and drive home again. Sometimes I had to get my flatmate to drive me down and back because I'd worked so many hours with my own team I couldn't keep my eyes open."
But the rapport she built up with Central Districts trainers paid off and her efforts were rewarded down the line with more drives.
"It's a loyalty thing and you take the good with the bad. I drive for Graham Neill for example and if he has four in and they're my only drives I'll still go, even if it means I lose money. You can't let people down.
"A lot of the time I might get a full book at Manawatu but realistically I probably can't win a race. But you have to be seen to be committed to going and being there at every meeting.
"Your name has to be up there all the time - people forget you quickly in this game."
Chilcott says every northern horseman who does the Manawatu circuit takes a body blow with the stress of getting home at 3am and having to be up two hours later to work their own teams.
"But if I didn't drive, I might as well shut the doors. There was a time when I made a really good living out of training, but if I break even at the end of the month now I've had a fantastic month.
"You've only got to look at the stakes we're racing for - they've more than halved and costs have more than doubled. The cost of feed has gone through the roof, sawdust, gear, you have to pay staff more.
"My training fees were $35 a day 10 years ago and now they're $40. I'd have to charge $100 a day to make any money and then we'd have no owners."
It was a reality which Chilcott tried to bring home to the Judicial Control Authority on Friday when giving submissions on penalty for a charge of speed duelling with Sailesh Abernethy in July.
"I have 10 horses in work, half of which I have shares in, and a big mortgage. How can they fine me $1000 and suspend me for 40 drives?"
Chilcott said you never see drivers who earn $70 a drive playing golf every other day like jockeys who get $125 a ride.
Chilcott hopes one day to be able to join the ranks of the elite trainers, the few who can earn their living from percentages of a steady stream of winners.
She'd like more winners like her previous best in Disprove, Waharoa and the bold going Shredder.
But she knows that in all likelihood she will have to rely on loyal owners like Cliff Thomas to continue to support her.
And that's why she is so big on giving good feedback after every drive.
"I always try to spend time with owners and trainers after a race, talking about how they went and whether they're geared up right."
There was nothing wrong with the way Steve Phillips had Windinherhair rigged on Friday night and the conversation was high spirited to say the least, after the mare sailed up the passing lane to win untested.
The look of joy on Chilcott's face said it all as she came back to scale five fingers splayed in a salute to the magic 500.
- © Fairfax NZ News