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July 14th, 2018 by admin

Jockey Mark Zahra says Danny Nikolic has never offered him a bribe

Jockey Mark Zahra said he had never been offered a bribe by fellow rider Danny Nikolic (right), pictured with partner Tania Hyett. Photo: Eddie Jim Lawyers were granted access to Danny Nikolic’s financial documents, after the tribunal was told about his relationship with Sydney-based punter Eddie Hayson (pictured). Photo: Louise Kennerley
Nanjing Night Net

Leading jockey Mark Zahra says he has never been offered a bribe by fellow rider Danny Nikolic, but has told a tribunal he’s “not allowed” to discuss whether he had given evidence about a race-fixing scandal to the Australian Crime Commission.

Fairfax Media has reported that in 2012, Mr Zahra gave evidence on oath to a secret ACC hearing that Nikolic offered him a $3000 kickback to help fix a 2011 race, so that Nikolic’s horse, Smoking Aces, could win.

Nikolic has denied the allegation and on Wednesday, Mr Zahra told the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal that Nikolic had never offered him a bribe.

When asked by Jeff Gleeson, QC, for Racing Victoria, if he had been asked about it by the ACC, Mr Zahra said he was “not allowed” to talk about the ACC.

During the following legal argument, the tribunal was told Mr Zahra would be committing a criminal offence if he discussed any appearance at the crime commission.

VCAT deputy president Heather Lambrick, who must rule on Nikolic’s appeal against Racing Victoria’s refusal to grant him a jockey’s licence following suspensions for abusing race stewards, adjourned to Thursday to give lawyers time to find the ruling on the ACC question.

Mr Zahra also said he was “absolutely not” petrified of Nikolic, after Mr Gleeson read to the tribunal a statement Mr Zahra’s father made to a Racing Victoria investigator.

In the statement, John Zahra described Nikolic as “scum of the earth” and that he and his son were “petrified” of him and could end up “in a ditch” if they spoke about him.

Mark Zahra said he had “no idea” why his father made the claims, and was not speaking to him often in December 2014, when John Zahra made the statement.

Racing Victoria lawyers were on Wednesday granted access to Nikolic’s financial documents, after the tribunal was told about his relationship with Sydney-based punter Eddie Hayson, who has been linked to a match-fixing probe in the NRL.

Nikolic said he had provided the PIN to a TAB account belonging to his partner, Tania Hyett, to Mr Hayson but he was unaware Mr Hayson was the subject of a TAB ban at the time. He has denied betting $100,000 on an NRL game on Mr Hayson’s behalf.

Nikolic said he, his father, his brother and sister-in-law had all used Ms Hyett’s account, despite rules prohibiting third parties using TAB accounts.

Nikolic said he was unaware of the rule when he was using the account to bet on AFL, NRL and tennis matches. He has said he never bet on horse racing.

The account was now frozen, the tribunal heard. Nikolic was questioned by stewards in May last year, the tribunal heard, after Ms Hyett bet more than $16,000 on a horse to lose in Echuca last year. All up, punters wagered about $260,000 on the horse, Baron Archer, to lose. It ran third.

Nikolic was asked by the stewards if he gambled, and told them: “I don’t bet.” When Mr Gleeson said on Wednesday that was an incomplete answer, Nikolic said he thought the stewards were referring to punting on horse racing only, not other sports.

Mr Hayson put Nikolic down as the director of a company he set up without the jockey’s permission, the tribunal heard. The first Nikolic knew about the position was when he read it in a news report, he said, and he was trying to have his name taken off the company.

Nikolic said he was a director of a handful of companies, but acknowledged he knew little about them. One had been set up on the advice of his accountant to minimise tax.

The tribunal heard more about the aggressive altercations Nikolic had with stewards, but the Caulfield Cup-winning jockey said he was now a changed man, and counselling had helped him to handle pressure. He hopes to base himself in Queensland if he regains a jockey’s licence.

“I am very confident I won’t behave like that again,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.