Darren Gauci made every post a winner on Rich Jack in the National Jockeys Trust Final on Saturday.Darren Gauci made every post a winner on Rich Jack in the National Jockeys Trust Final on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

When a pregnant woman riding a horse gets hit by a car she would have every excuse to say that the racing game is no longer for her. After all, most women who had gone through such a scare would regard that as a sane and rational thing to do.

It’s not that Carole Heffernan, the daughter of the former Melbourne Racing Club committeeman Kevin Heffernan, is not sane and rational. But she simply loved being involved with horses.

And, having gone on to have her daughter, Paige, she still loves the racing game – perhaps never more than when she sent out her first metropolitan Saturday winner at the Caulfield track that her father had been so involved with during a lifetime in racing.

Under that good judge of pace Darren Gauci, Rich Jack ($3.40 favourite) made every post a winner in the LUCRF National Jockeys Trust Final and made light of his 60.5 kilo burden on the easy surface, winning by 1¼ lengths.

Heffernan was ecstatic in the post-race celebrations, evoking the memory of her late father – after whom a race is named at Sandown during the spring carnival – and praising Gauci, a former superstar jockey who these days rarely gets the leg up on fancied horses in the city.

So excited was she about coming to a track that meant so much to her with a strongly fancied runner that she had that morning, she confessed, even messaged her brother David in Dubai to let him know how on edge she was.

“It was a really big win. It was a thrill. It’s my first Saturday winner, it’s Caulfield, it’s Dad’s old track, I couldn’t be happier. Darren Gauci gave him a really good ride,” she said.

” He’s able to do it at both ends – all you have to do is just sit on him, let him do it, and be a bit of a passenger. If you set him alight you are in trouble with him as he would overrace.”

She said she could always remember how long she had been training because of the accident she had while carrying her daughter.

“I was training and I was riding a horse and got run over by a car when I was pregnant with Paige, so it’s about 22 years. At the moment I have three in work. I have no more than six because I travel every day from Yarra Glen to Cranbourne [as the Yarra Glen training track is shut]. My truck only takes six horses,” she said.

Rich Jack may step up in grade to the group 3 Bletchingley Stakes next start but her ultimate ambition this year is to go for the race named after her father.

“I would love to get into that race too, and I think this is the horse to do it.”

A more regular scorer at Caulfield is trainer Mick Price, and he too enjoyed success at his home track, landing a double with horses ridden by two of the men locked together in the race for the metropolitan jockeys’ premiership.

Dwayne Dunn scored on four-year-old mare Pilly’s Wish ($3 favourite) in the Thurgood Family Plate, named after apprentice Elvis “Ricky” Thurgood, who suffered catastrophic injuries in a race fall at Caulfield 35 years ago, while Damien Oliver landed the prize in the My Punter.com Handicap aboard promising three-year-old Volcanic Ash ($4.60). It was a lucky pick-up for Oliver, who replaced the injured Dean Yendall.