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Nikolic denies offering Smoking Aces bribe

Controversial jockey Danny Nikolic denies offering a fellow rider a bribe in the Smoking Aces affair.

Giving evidence in court in a bid to regain his jockey licence, Nikolic said he did not know why Mark Zahra would say he felt “petrified” of him.

Racing Victoria barrister Jeff Gleeson QC asked Nikolic if he offered Zahra a bribe in a 2011 race. Nikolic replied “no I didn’t”.

Zahra has failed to have a witness summons set aside and will give evidence later this week about whether he was intimidated by Nikolic during the race fixing investigation focused on the horse Smoking Aces, ridden by Nikolic.

Gleeson said Zahra’s father had said the rider was petrified of Nikolic, although Zahra’s barrister Patrick Wheelahan said he was not intimidated.

Nikolic is appealing Racing Victoria’s decision to reject his application for a riding licence.

Nikolic maintains he is a changed man and has served the penalty for his wrongful acts, which include threatening a steward and assaulting a fellow jockey, a woman, a taxi driver and a detective.

“I’ve done my time,” Nikolic told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Monday.

Nikolic said he had served out his penalty “and extra” after being disqualified from racing in September 2012 for two years for threatening Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey at a Seymour race meeting.

Nikolic said he was “definitely in the wrong” and spoke poorly to Bailey then and at other times, but maintained the steward threatened to destroy his career.

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“I believe there were two parties in the wrong but I was penalised and I was found guilty,” Nikolic said.

Nikolic told the tribunal Bailey was dishonest and he never threatened the steward, but did speak to him poorly.

Gleeson said: “In your words Terry Bailey has perpetrated a sustained and vicious lie against you.”

Nikolic replied: “Yes he has.”

Gleeson: “You would regard him as a corrupt individual then.”

Nikolic: “Yes I definitely would.”

Nikolic admitted lying about swearing at Bailey in evidence to a disciplinary hearing and subsequent appeal, saying he cleaned up his language.

Nikolic, a Caulfield Cup-winning jockey, has previously admitted having a bit of a temper and a problem with authority if he believed someone was abusing their power.

His attitude towards authority was now completely different, the 41-year-old said.

“I think things are a lot different now and what I’ve been through over the last four years has probably put me in a lot better position to be able to handle situations appropriately,” Nikolic said.

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