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Zahra says no bribe from Nikolic

Mark Zahra says Danny Nikolic never offered him a bribe in the Smoking Aces affair and he is not petrified of his fellow rider.

A court has heard Zahra’s father John told Racing Victoria investigators he and his son were petrified of Nikolic and frightened they would “end up in a ditch” if they said something against him.

Mark Zahra said that was not correct and he had no idea why his father thought that.

“I’m not petrified, that’s what I’m saying,” Zahra told Nikolic’s appeal to regain his jockey licence.

After being forced to give evidence to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing on Wednesday, Zahra said Nikolic never offered him a bribe in the April 2011 race at Cranbourne won by Nikolic’s ride Smoking Aces.

Zahra said he has not felt intimidated by Nikolic at any stage.

Nikolic has denied offering Zahra a bribe.

Nikolic on Wednesday said he did not know Eddie Hayson was banned from TAB betting when he gave his partner’s account code to his friend.

The controversial Sydney gambling figure recently used the TAB phone betting account of Nikolic’s partner Tania Hyett to bet, VCAT has heard.

Nikolic said he did not know about Hayson’s TAB betting ban when he gave his friend the PIN code, saying the former Sydney brothel owner used the account to repay money he owed the jockey.

Nikolic said he only became aware of the ban when Hyett’s account was frozen four months ago after Hayson used it to bet one Saturday, having deposited $9000-$10,000.

“That’s when I was aware that he had a ban on him as a TAB punter,” Nikolic said.

He said he did not know about a ban on third parties using TAB accounts until Hyett told him.

Racing Victoria barrister Jeff Gleeson QC said that was a lie, which Nikolic denied.

A description in a media report that Nikolic bets alongside Hayson was not fair, the rider told his bid to regain his jockey licence.

He said he did not know Hayson had named him as a director of a company set up last October until he read about it in a newspaper and has asked for his name to be removed.

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