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   Apr 21

Darren Gauci rolls back the years and will not go quietly into the night

Veteran jockey Darren Gauci is one of the softly spoken, quiet men of the weighing room.
Nanjing Night Net

There are few theatrical gestures and no whoops, shouts or exhortations when he returns to scale.

Not even when he rides what is nowadays a rarity for him: not one, but two metropolitan winners on the same Saturday afternoon, as he did at Caulfield this weekend when he booted home two gallopers in contrasting fashion.

Gauci’s opportunities have been few and far between in recent years, but the one-time superstar of the track is philosophical about the way a jockey’s life ebbs and flows.

He has been to the very summit – a prodigy as an apprentice, a four-time champion rider, partnerships with the big stables – and he has felt the lows of serious injury and career-threatening falls.

And now, rising 50, he is determined to rage against the dying of the light and for the man known universally as “The Gauch” there will be no quiet, slow steady decline into obscurity.

He showed on Saturday at Caulfield that he can still get the job done  on the right horse in the right race, landing a double on Rich Jack and Lord Durante for two small-scale women trainers, Carole Heffernan and Simone Ferchie.

Gauci showed the full repertoire of riding skills, making all the running on the promising youngster Rich Jack, and coming from off the pace on the old gelding Lord Durante.

The latter triumph was especially sweet as it was the jockey who had recommended that the rising seven-year-old would be improved by a step up to Saturday’s 2000-metre trip having been running consistently but without success over 1400 and 1600 metres.

And that is what you get with older, more experienced men such as  Gauci – an understanding of the wider nuances of the sport. He has ridden so many horses, in so many conditions, over so many distances, that he, like his fortysomething contemporaries currently battling for the jockeys’ premiership, Damien Oliver and Dwayne Dunn,  has an intuitive understanding of how a horse might be going, what might suit it and where it would be well placed to win next time.

Gauci couldn’t remember the last time he rode a city double, preferring  to take a bigger book of rides at the country meetings  on big Saturday racedays than taking one mount on a long shot in town.

But he rode a winner at Mornington last Thursday for the powerful Godolphin stable and he is hopeful that, along with this  double, he will be back on the radar with spring just round the corner.  He was particularly pleased to have won from off the pace on Lord Durante, as he feels he has been unfairly labelled a front-running jockey in the latter years of his career.

“I hope this puts me back in the shop window. I have ridden doubles and trebles before but people seem to think when you get to my age you are over the hill,” he said.

“I don’t think I am, if anything I have been training harder the last six months, and I have just been hoping for the opportunity not to just be a front runner, which you are labelled.

“I am going on 50 this year. How much time I have got left I don’t know. As long as my body feels well.

“More so than never, right now, I really want to have a real go. I don’t want to go out of the game just fading out. I am not going to set the world on fire, but I still want to be going good when I retire.

“It isn’t easy because there’s a lot of good jockeys, a lot of young jockeys coming through with great potential. The apprentice school has got things right now, it’s much better for those kids coming through, the system seems to work a lot better.

“I am lucky enough to feel fit and am still able to ride. I have had a lot of friends helping me training with different parts of my body to keep me fit. But I am still really keen. I might ride for another five or 10 years, who knows.”

Age has not wearied them: top Jockeys pushing into middle age

Damien Oliver (43)

Dwayne Dunn (42)

Glen Boss (45)

Jim Cassidy (52)

Robert Thompson (56)

Overseas:

Frankie Dettori (44, won this year’s Epsom Derby on Golden Horn)

Kieron Fallon (50, last year won English 2000 Guineas on Night of Thunder)

Richard Hughes (42, reigning British champion jockey)

Douglas Whyte (43, multiple Hong Kong champion)

Gerald Mosse  (48, won 2010 Melbourne Cup on Americain)

Thierry Jarnet (48, won the past two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes on Treve)

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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