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Nikolic loses bid to restart riding career

Danny Nikolic has “shown his teeth” to racing stewards among others and could return to his previous form, a tribunal says in rejecting his bid to get back in the saddle.

The Caulfield-Cup winning jockey is considering another appeal after failing to convince Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal deputy president Heather Lambrick that he is a changed man after four-and-a-half years on the sidelines.

Rejecting his bid to regain his jockey licence, Ms Lambrick said Nikolic had an unenviable criminal record in addition to his racing disciplinary record.

“He had ‘shown his teeth’ to stewards, a car park official, another jockey, police, members of the public and family members,” she said in a decision released on Wednesday.

Ms Lambrick said Nikolic had engaged in violent behaviour away from the racing industry on a number of occasions and has a demonstrated lack of control, both within his working environment and outside it.

She said Nikolic had demonstrated a willingness to disobey stewards’ directions and appeared to be prepared to “do what he wants, when he wants, regardless of the rules”.

“Given the difficult and stressful environment in which a licensed jockey is required to perform, I am not satisfied that Mr Nikolic would not repeat the type of conduct he previously engaged in.”

Nikolic denies threatening Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey in the incident that led to him being outed from racing and has accused the steward and other senior officials in court of being corrupt.

Ms Lambrick said Nikolic does not accept the validity or integrity of the very organisation from whom he seeks a licence.

“His negativity towards the chief steward has not in any way diminished. If anything, it has cemented.”

Nikolic maintains he has served more than his time for his 2012 altercation with Bailey and ought to be relicensed.

Other jockeys support him resuming the only career he has ever known, his lawyer Pat Lennon said.

He said Nikolic was obviously bitterly disappointed and proposed appealing the VCAT decision if he had reasonable grounds.

“Danny has only ever wanted a fair go and to be treated in the same manner that others would be treated,” Mr Lennon said.

Ms Lambrick had a degree of sympathy for Nikolic, who was under enormous stress in recent years because of the Smoking Aces race fixing inquiry, his marriage breakdown, media scrutiny and the unsolved murder of his former father-in-law, racing identity Les Samba.

“Although these matters contextualise the circumstances of much of Mr Nikolic’s conduct, they cannot completely excuse it,” she said.

“They also cannot turn back time.”

Nikolic had hoped to be able to ride trackwork if he regained his licence, despite losing a High Court bid to appeal a police exclusion order banning him from specified racecourses during race meetings.

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