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Nikolic says he has paid for past wrongs

Jockey Danny Nikolic believes he has served the penalty for his wrongful acts, which include threatening a steward and assaulting three people.

Nikolic maintains he is a changed man as he seeks to regain his jockey licence.

He 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.

“I believe there were two parties in the wrong but I was penalised and I was found guilty,” Nikolic told a tribunal on Monday.

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

Nikolic 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 told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“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.

Nikolic said he accepted he had committed wrongful acts in the past.

Under questioning by Racing Victoria barrister Jeff Gleeson QC, Nikolic said those acts included assaulting fellow jockey Mark Pegus and Pegus’s girlfriend as well as a taxi driver.

But he denied punching Pegus in the face or violently assaulting his girlfriend.

Nikolic also denied punching the taxi driver while drunk, saying he pushed the man forcefully to protect himself.

Nikolic’s barrister Julian Burnside QC said the jockey sought counselling after the past events, which occurred amid his marriage breakdown and the stress of the Betfair inquiry in 2010-2011 and Smoking Aces investigation in 2012-2013.

Jockey Mark Zahra 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 in 2011 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.

Wheelahan said the Victorian Jockeys Association endorsed Nikolic’s application to be relicensed as a jockey.

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