Some omen punters might be kicking themselves after Darren Gauci booted home a winner on his last day of riding at Saturday’s Caulfield meeting.

Darren Gauci (navy & white silks, navy cap) gets Goodwill home on his last day of riding at Flemington. Photo: Darryl Sherer
Gauci claimed the Robert Hunter Handicap (2000m) aboard the aptly-named Goodwill, which went around as a $17 chance when he narrowly defeated Dodging Bullets ($4.40) and Post D’France ($7.50).

Gauci has been the subject of an enormous amount of goodwill since announcing his retirement from riding last month to take up a role as an apprentice jockey coach on Monday.

The 51-year-old had to work to cajole Goodwill across the line but Gauci’s win brought a great reception from the Caulfield crowd while many of his fellow riders emerged from the jockeys’ room to welcome the popular rider back to the winner’s stall.

Gauci wore the navy and white silks of prominent Melbourne owner Lloyd Williams for whom he won the 2011 Adelaide Cup (3200m) aboard Muir.

“I’m so happy,” Gauci said. “I didn’t expect that.

“I have got to thank Lloyd. He gave me instructions to try and go forward.

“I’m a bit tired because I had to actually ride him the whole way. But he’s a tough horse, I tell you what, you might see this as a good Melbourne Cup type.”

Gauci said Goodwill should have won by a significantly bigger margin than a short half-head.

“He was definitely waiting for them,” Gauci said. “When he did let go, he was probably going to win by three lengths but he took a bit of persuading.”

Ben Melham gave the Macedon Lodge operation a running double when he guided Chance To Dance, who firmed from $3.10 to start as a $2.90 favourite, to victory in the Mal Seccull Handicap (2400m).