Of Darren Gauci, pictured at Eagle Farm on Stradbroke Day 2013, Tommy noted, "He never attracted any controversy or bad press and just rode winners and promoted the sport in the best possible way" - a wonderful tribute indeed.
Hi fans and punters, it has been a big week in our game and here is the latest edition of my time honoured, sought after Award.
The last couple of weeks has been all about the Josh Cartwright incident in Adelaide on the 14th of January. We all saw what happened and we all scratched our heads at the same time. We then had to listen to the X-files theories from the misguided media types who pride themselves on being first and not right. But the calls by a certain instructed racing department of a well known Sydney "newspaper" who are heavily edited by supreme powers above to have the charge against young Josh increased are way off the mark and unprofessional. Without knowing the facts, it is poor comment and this rag should stick to writing about Sydney racing just like they are ordered to do.
On a positive note, this week's Award goes to a bloke who seems to have been around forever. Darren Gauci.
He announced his retirement recently, effective yesterday and how great it is to see him pass on his years of experience and divine skills to the younger generation coming through as part of the Victorian jockeys training scheme or whatever it is called.
The Gauch is 51 and what a star he has been. I have seen a number of glamour apprentices in my time including Wayne Harris, Malcolm Johnston, Damien Oliver and Darren Beadman. But The Gauch was the biggest star of them all. With his movie star looks, perfect seat on a horse, he set all types of records as an apprentice. He never attracted any controversy or bad press and just rode winners and promoted the sport in the best possible way.
He had a dream life off the track too, marrying one of the stars of Chris Blackwell's favourite show, Young Talent Time and is still married to the lovely Karen with 4 additions to the family along the way.
Darren rode some great champions in his career including Lonhro, Super Impose and Shaftesbury Avenue, my favourite all time horse. In fact, Darren won the first Epsom Handicap at Randwick aboard Super Impose in what was the second of his 4 straight Randwick miles.
In later years Darren got a bit of a rep as a front running rider which probably stymied his career somewhat. The fact is that he was a great rider no matter where he was in the field.
My favourite memories of The Gauch was when he rode my aforementioned all time favourite horse, the great Shaftesbury Avenue to victories in both the 1991 Newmarket Handicap and the 1991 Caulfield Stakes. Think about that......2 Group 1's in the same year over 1200 metres and then 2000 metres. His ride in the Caulfield Stakes aboard Shaftesbury was vintage Gauch....leading, stacking them up and sprinting away to win easily beating a couple of fairly handy types, Super Impose and Sydeston.
Mr. Gauci, I have always admired you as a rider and as a man. On behalf of my millions of fans and the racing industry generally, we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
I get down to Melbourne fairly often, so when I get there next, I will track you down, we can go to the pub and you can buy me a beer.
Until next week this has been Tommy from Campbelltown......signing off.
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