Darren Gauci has announced his retirement from race riding at the age of 51. One of the better-known racing journalists reporting on this decision referred to Gauci as a “journeyman” rider. He should have known better! The dictionary definition of a “journeyman” is somebody who is “reliable, but not outstanding”, and any fair-minded assessment of his race-riding record will show that description can’t apply to Gauci.
Even Gauci himself would agree that, these days at least, he certainly isn’t one of racing’s superstar riders. But let’s look at the records. Darren Gauci retires after more than three decades in the saddle and over 2,500 winners, including 35 Group One wins. He won the Victorian JockeysPremiership four times, three times as an apprentice, and finished second in three Melbourne Cups. For many years he was stable rider for John Hawkes, and the total prizemoney on by Gauci ridden horses in his career stands at almost $36 million and the respect in which he is held in racing comes from a very clean riding record and reputation. That doesn’t really read like someone who was “reliable, but not outstanding”.
The reality is that, as age catches up, and new, younger riders appear, older jockeys do find it harder to get the plum rides, and their profile certainly suffers. Racing is a tough business, and experience and skill don’t always win through. But experience and skill remain valuable commodities, and, if that’s what a journeyman has to have to be “reliable”, then that’s what racing needs, just as much as it needs superstars. Racing needs a spread of skill sets in jockeys, just as it needs a spread of abilities in horses. If all we saw each race day was a procession of Winx-clones and Hugh Bowman doppelgangers, then that would become pretty bland, pretty quickly.
Racing thrives on variety and the unexpected. Just look at Winx in the last Cox Plate– whoever would have expected the degree of supremacy in that win? Sure, she was expected to win, but by that far? So, it’s healthy to have so-called journeyman jockeys and Australia is lucky to have so many riders who sit just below the stellar heights of the glory boys. In Victoria, there’s Jamie Mott, Steven Baster, StevenArnold, Chris Symons, Noel Callow, Brad Rawiller, Dean Yendall, Craig Newitt, Damian Lane, and others who fit into the category. New South Wales has Greg Ryan, Jeff Penza, Tye Angland, Jay Ford, Josh Parr, Christian Reith and many more. And it’s the same story nationwide.
Australian racing is amongst the best in the world, and Australian jockeys are, arguably, the most competitive and skilful collection of riders to be seen across the globe. Those who have watched racingin other countries, and seen the comparative lack of competitive riding that predominates in Europe, for example, feel very happy that their Australian bets, generally, get given every chance by jockeys who are out there with great skills and a fighting spirit.
“The Gauch” has been, and is, a shining example of what is good about Australian racing. Now that he has hung up his saddle, after riding Longeron into 8th for Team Hawkes in the last race at Caulfield on Saturday in race that was renamed in his honour, after earlier in the day winning aboard Goodwill for Lloyd Williams, racing will be the poorer. That’s why it’s a great move by Racing Victoria to put The Gauch into a mentoring role for apprentice jockeys. There couldn’t be a better teacher.
Hi fans and punters,
Been a great week in racing and I have been up and about getting you all the right stuff.
I gave last week's Award to the great Darren Gauci who bowed out of riding Saturday on a winning note getting a winner for my brother Nick Williams.
And we also heard another massive announcement from Racing NSW about a 10 million dollar race at Randwick called The Mountain or something. The entry fee is a bit out of my price bracket so good luck to the cashed up blokes who can afford it.
I thought I would go to the West for this week's Award winner, a young bloke who I have a lot of time for as a rider, Jarrad Noske. Jarrad is best known as the young bloke, who, as an apprentice, rode the wonder mare Black Caviar to victory in her first two wins for Peter Moody.
He is still only 24 years old, has no weight problems and despite the fact that Willie Pike rides most of the winners in WA each season, Jarrad keeps his head above water. Like all good riders, each season that goes by sees him ride more winners. His two biggest wins to date, apart from the thrill of riding the great mare, are Perth Cups on Star Exhibit and Talent Show. He has good balance and is very strong in the finish of a race.
Yesterday at Ascot he rode 2 winners and a 2nd. He timed his run to perfection on You Am I in race 1 and hit the lead late only to be nailed in the last stride.
He got well back in race 3 aboard Dukeazza and produced him perfectly riding with great vigour to get up and win. To prove his versatility he led all the way in race 5 aboard Salorsci, riding like a man inspired to push the horse's head down to get the photo in a deceptive finish.
Jarrad is on the verge of going to the next level to my eye and could easily follow in the footsteps of many great riders who kicked off their careers in WA such as Damien Oliver and Damian Lane.
Keep your head down and bum up son, your efforts are being noticed, so next time we catch up you can buy me a beer.
Until next week this has been Tommy from Campbelltown........signing off.
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