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He may only have one ride at one of the premier meetings in Australian racing but Darren Gauci is thrilled to be a part of the action.

The former champion apprentice rides Ayers Rock in the Victoria Derby at Flemington on Saturday, looking to break a Group One drought.

It’s more than 32 years since Gauci captured his first Group One win aboard Taj Eclipse in the 1983 VRC Oaks while his last victory at the highest level came aboard El Segundo in the 2006 Underwood Stakes.

Gauci has over the years been a bit player during Melbourne Cup week with the Cup and Derby eluding him.

He has three second placings, the latest aboard On A Jeune in the 2005 Cup behind Makybe Diva while a fall early on Derby day in 1995 saw him replaced aboard eventual second placegetters Octagonal in the blue riband.

Group One offers don’t come flooding in for Gauci these days but he still looks forward to the carnival.

“If you don’t get gee’d up at this time of year, there’s something wrong with you,” Gauci said.

Gauci said punters should overlook Ayers Rock’s last-start seventh in the Caulfield Classic on October 17 and assess his prospecys on a Flemington over 1800m on October 4.

He said the three-year-old slipped at Caulfield, but has since galloped the colt and said his action was fine.

“I reckon he’ll stay,” Gauci said.

“He’s got to settle but I think he’ll be right in the finish.

“Young horses on a big day, that also comes into the equation.”

At least Ayers Rock will have an old head on his young shoulders.

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