Coffs star Nikolic in race fix probe
LESS than a week ago jockey Danny Nikolic was feeling on top of the world.
He'd ridden six winners over the two days of the Coffs Harbour racing carnival including the winning ride on Gold Cup winner Pepperwood.
Nikolic's world has quickly turned upside down though after being named in a race fixing scandal that could see him banned from the track, ending his career.
The results of a joint investigation between Melbourne's The Age newspaper and the ABC's Four Corners were aired on Monday night's episode of the current affairs program detailing Victoria Police investigations had found "organised crime networks and high level corruption in horse racing".
Nikolic has been named with at least one other leading jockey, a former trainer and several other well-known racing identities across Australia as a man under investigation by Victorian organised crime detectives for allegedly conspiring to fix the outcome of a race last year.
The suspected race fix was uncovered during the probe into former trainer Les Samba's murder, and is understood to have yielded participants a total of up to $200,000 in betting returns.
The race in question was at Cranbourne in April 2011.
Stewards at the Cranbourne race meeting interviewed Nikolic, who is Mr Samba's former son-in-law, and fellow rider Noel Callow, over certain actions they took during the race.
The stewards asked Nikolic why he twice turned his head to look at the favourite during the running of the race in which he rode the winner, Smoking Aces.
The race fixing scandal is not the first time Nikolic's activities have been under scrutiny.
In early 2010 Nikolic was charged by Victorian racing stewards with leaking information about several of his mounts to punters, who then successfully bet on the horses to not finish first although "the racing disciplinary board found there was insufficient evidence to prove the charges against Nikolic and he was cleared".