Danny Nikolic will miss another spring racing carnival but won’t give up on his two-pronged battle to ride again, even if it means going all the way to Australia’s highest court.
Nikolic wants to mount a High Court challenge to a police order banning him from race meetings but Racing Victoria argues he still faces other insurmountable hurdles in his separate bid to be relicensed as a jockey.
Nikolic’s claim that RV integrity services head Dayle Brown and chief steward Terry Bailey are corrupt puts the regulator in an impossible position should he return, RV barrister Jeff Gleeson QC said.
“It is high farce to suggest that a person who maintains the view that the chief regulators are corrupt is a proper person to be licensed,” Gleeson told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“It puts Racing Victoria in an impossible position because every decision that involves Mr Nikolic will be supercharged with perception of vendetta or going soft.”
Nikolic maintains he did not threaten Bailey in the 2012 incident that led to his disqualification from racing, but Gleeson said that was a lie.
“One can scarcely think of a more serious behaviour that would preclude a person from being licensed,” Gleeson said on Wednesday.
“We’re not operating in some alternative universe here where the passage of a few years cleanses a threat not withdrawn against your family.”
Nikolic’s barrister Julian Burnside QC said the jockey had always denied making the threat and there was therefore no reason for him to apologise.
Bailey has suggested he may quit if Nikolic returns, describing the position between the two as untenable when asked if he would work with the jockey.
Burnside said Bailey’s attitude was extraordinary and indefensible, suggesting the steward was driven by a sense of animus towards Nikolic that coloured his evidence.
“It does raise questions about Mr Bailey’s suitability to occupy the position he occupies,” Burnside said.
Burnside said Nikolic accepted he had responded badly when under a great deal of stress because of his marriage breakdown, the Smoking Aces inquiry and the murder of his former father-in-law, horse trainer Les Samba.
“But Mr Bailey apparently cannot get over the view that he formed of Mr Nikolic during that time and that reflects worse on Mr Bailey than it does on Mr Nikolic.”
Burnside said RV’s case seemed to be that Nikolic behaved badly then and would therefore behave badly now if relicensed, which was wrong.
“Mr Nikolic has shown that he is willing to do whatever is necessary to behave himself especially in relation to people he doesn’t have a high opinion of, but apparently Mr Bailey is not willing to do the same.”
Gleeson said Bailey’s response that he may have to move on was not surprising when there was a threat against him and the person who made that threat continued to lie about it.
Nikolic faces a further wait to find out if he can return to “the only occupation he knows” with VCAT deputy president Heather Lambrick reserving her decision on his licence appeal.
A ban on Nikolic attending specified racecourses during race meetings remains in place after police successfully challenged a court decision that overturned the exclusion order.
Nikolic is now seeking special leave to appeal to the High Court, the first step in what could be a year-long appeal process.