Darren Gauci has ridden some champions of the Australian turf and achieved more than most during a distinguished career.
At Caulfield on Saturday, after 35 years, the curtain will come down on the riding career of the widely respected jockey whose 506 wins during his apprenticeship in the 1980s is an Australian record.
Gauci won three of his four Melbourne jockeys’ premierships while an apprentice and landed his first Group One victories in 1983 as a 17-year-old.
In total ‘The Gauch’ has over 2500 wins, 35 at Group One level, and ridden champions the calibre of Super Impose, Lonhro and Shaftesbury Avenue.
“I look back on it and I’ve been very fortunate,” Gauci says.
“I’ve had a good career. I’ve had good support and I’ve loved riding. And I still enjoy it now.
“There’s no regrets or anything like that. I’ve met a lot of good people and been to a lot of nice places around the world.”
Gauci, whose last Group One win was the 2006 Underwood Stakes on El Segundo, decided to retire from race riding when an opportunity came up to become an apprentice jockey coach at Racing Victoria.
He begins that role next week.
The 51-year-old’s riding career will be celebrated at Caulfield on Saturday, where he has three rides, and the Melbourne Racing Club will honour him with life membership.
A guard of honour and special presentation will precede and follow the final race, named the Darren Gauci Farewell Handicap.
Gauci rides Longeron in that race, fittingly for Hawkes Racing given he had a long and successful association with trainer John Hawkes, and he said it would mean a lot if he could ride a winner at the meeting.
Gauci said it felt “pretty strange” leading up to his final meeting.
“It has hit me but I know Saturday it is really going to hit me, especially when I have my last ride,” he said.
“It’s a new chapter in my life and has probably come a bit sooner than I thought, but I think it’s worked out fortunately for me that I’m going to go into a job working with a really good team to transition into a new job.”
So how would he like to be remembered as a jockey?
“I seem to get on really well with everybody and I’ve made a lot of good friends,” he said.
“And I think as a jockey I’d like to be remembered for what I did maybe as an apprentice. And to be able to stay at the top for over 20 years.”
Industry participants have widely praised Gauci for the way he conducts himself and for his record in the saddle.
Des O’Keeffe, the Australian Jockeys’ Association chairman who has known Gauci since the 1980s, echoed those sentiments.
“If you’re in career at an elite level for 35 years and you’ve gone through with your integrity absolutely beyond reproach, and respected by everyone – officials, fellow riders, owners, trainers – in a cut-throat competitive industry, you’ve done yourself really, really proud,” O’Keeffe said.No tags for this post.