Mark Zahra will partner glamour mare Mosheen in her return at Flemington on Saturday with Danny Nikolic’s appeal against a riding ban held over until next week.
Nikolic was to have attended a hearing in front of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board on Friday in an attempt to have an indefinite riding ban overturned.
However, the matter has been put back to next Wednesday leaving trainer Robert Smerdon to find a new rider for Mosheen in Saturday’s Group Three Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m).
Zahra’s manager Reece Murphy confirmed the hoop had been booked for the plum mount on Saturday.
“Mark Zahra is definitely riding her. He’s happy to fill in,” Murphy said.
“Robert Smerdon said it’s a one-race commitment.”
Nikolic, who has ridden Mosheen in all but one of her 14 starts, has been embroiled in a heated war of words with chief steward Terry Bailey who banned him from riding indefinitely after an incident at Seymour on Tuesday.
Smerdon and the connections of Mosheen, including part-owner Phil Sly, have stood by the embattled jockey this week.
They did not even place a rival rider on standby for the Bobbie Lewis mount and were prepared to wait on the outcome of Friday’s hearing, only replacing Nikolic when the appeal was moved.
“Danny rides Phil Sly’s horses. He’s been terrific. All our involvement with him has been great,” Smerdon said.
“He’s been very professional in everything he’s done, so we’re really happy to have Danny aboard and we hope that can continue.”
Bailey stood Nikolic down from riding on Tuesday after alleging he had made serious threats towards him at Seymour.
Nikolic is also under investigation as part of a probe into race fixing and Smerdon admitted the incidents had hurt the industry.
“It’s not a good look for racing,” he said.
“I’m just an observer like the rest of us and I hope it resolves itself sooner rather than later.”
Meanwhile, Mosheen is recovering from a minor throat operation last month with Smerdon admitting the stable was “a little behind where we wanted to be”.
“We wanted to kick off last week in the Memsie over 1400 metres so we’re a week later and 200 metres shorter under handicap conditions rather than weight-for-age conditions, which is not ideal,” he said.
“But she’s in good shape now and ready to get going and we’re still on track for what we wanted to achieve if all goes well.”