DANNY Nikolic will spend the next two years out of racing after the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board ruled yesterday that disqualification was the only suitable penalty for the jockey found guilty of threatening the state's chief steward.
In delivering the penalty, board chairman Judge Brian Forrest was less than sympathetic to any plea for leniency, citing Nikolic's poor record in his dealings with stewards and, in particular, chief steward Terry Bailey.
"There is little in the way of mitigating circumstances Mr Nikolic does not have an unblemished record," Mr Forrest said. "Mr Nikolic's defence argued that the evidence of Mr Bailey had been fabricated and so there has been no question of any remorse or contrition."
Already found guilty on two charges relating to improper practice and conduct prejudicial to the image and welfare of racing, after clashing with Mr Bailey at the Seymour races on September 4, Nikolic's legal team had asked the board to avoid the "easiest thing" and slap the 37-year-old jockey with a lengthy disqualification.
"This has been akin to having him in the stocks where he is subject to continuous public ridicule and public comment. Give him another chance," said Sandy Robertson, QC.
Mr Forrest said jockeys carried the responsibility to uphold the image of racing and by being found guilty of threatening the chief steward, Nikolic had failed to do this.
The board had viewed the threats made by Nikolic to Mr Bailey at Seymour to be contemptible, abusive, and sinister, and deserved to be dealt with seriously.
Nikolic remained largely expressionless as the ban was delivered and left Racing Victoria headquarters without comment. It is not clear if he will appeal against the ruling to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.