Farewell winner for the 'gauc' and not a dry eye in the mounting yard
|Farewell winner for the 'gauc' and not a dry eye in the mounting yard - 6th Feb 2017|
Farewell winner for the 'gauc' and not a dry eye in the mounting yard|
The outpouring of emotion was hard to disguise at Caulfield on Saturday when the retiring Darren Gauci booted home a winner on his last day in the saddle.
All of the jockeys that weren't riding in the Robert Hill Handicap were glued to TVs in the jockey room and when it appeared the "gauc" had grabbed a slender margin for success, all of his colleagues poured into the mounting yard to cheer him back a winner.
"He's one of the best people you will ever meet, would help anyone, and he is winning on his last day," one jockey remarked.
Former Irish galloper Goodwill owned by Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams, was a tough hard ride according to Gauci, who admitted to being "out of breath" moments after the Robert Hill Stakes.
"He took (Goodwill) a stack of riding but we got there in the end," Gauci said.
To the generation of racegoers in the 1980s Darren Gauci was a rare revelation to Australian racing.
Never before had someone at such a young age managed to master horse racing nationally and at the same time remain the likeable teenager to whomever he came across.
At 51, Gauci knows every inch of the Caulfield Racecourse, a piece of land that he made his own for decades, and on Saturday his ride on Goodwill was testament to that.
His unique ability to master the tricky and often sharp turns of Caulfield put him well above his rival jockeys.
Gauci won a staggering 500 races during his apprenticeship, a tally of successes that racing historians believe will never be bettered.
The ultimate privilege was paid to Gauci when international offers to America, England and France came flooding in and that was even before his 21st birthday.
"I've loved every minute of it, I've seen the world and everything in racing has been exciting. Sad sure, because that's all I've known, excited yes, so I can put a few things back to the game I love," he said.
And over the last three decades he was never under the glare of any investigation or wrongdoing. In fact, stewards throughout the years have complimented Gauci on his honest, forthright and indeed accurate assessment of a race.
Sadly in the last decade younger riders have taken the racing spotlight but they will never be the subject of the ongoing tug-of-war of some of Australia's finest stables that included Tommy Smith, Colin Hayes, Bart Cummings and Geoff Murphy for the youngster's services.
He was denied a Caulfield Cup win by a cigarette paper when his mount Congressman was cut down in the last stride nearly 30 years ago but Gauci remained a great racing ambassador even in the smallest of big race defeats.
Article courtesy of Fairfax Digital and The Age