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Nikolic case collapses without major conviction

A blow to keeping corruption out of racing, or vindication for a jockey who did nothing more than discuss his rides with blokes who punt, and then made their own independent decisions?

Leading Australian jockey Danny Nikolic was charged over several races where his rides were unplaced and the horses in question were laid for substantial amounts by punters he regularly spoke to.

Nikolic cleared of serious charges

In dismissing the four charges, RADB chairman Judge Russell Lewis said the board was not satisfied that Nikolic had communicated with the associates or some of them about the chances of his mounts resulting in the associates making lay bets outside their normal betting parameters.

"The evidence relied upon by the stewards as a basis for drawing an inference that Nikolic communicated the chances of his mounts raises suspicions about what transpired," Judge Lewis said.

"But harbouring suspicions about his conduct is not sufficient to prove the charges."



One thing this does prove, is without phone tapping, then proving allegations of not allowing a horse to perform to its best linked with significant betting patterns against the horse will be nigh on impossible to uphold, unless the persons involved are thicker than two short planks (so yes it will still happen).

Here's an excellent summary of the case and proceedings from Ralph Horowitz, noted Australian form analyst.

No surprises as Nikolic beats the rap

Jockeys should be able to talk to form students - after all, few will have a better understanding of the race and how it should pan out. You can say someone else could do that for them and not bet... but like the bloke who does the morning odds in the newspapers, his opinion isn't worth a penny if there is no risk behind it. The seasoned punter understands the risks and the value of every action and comment.

But of course it brings in the question of laying for profit, particularly when said punter has access to information (which they have not necessarily received) which may improve their chances. This covers similar ground to the recent Harry Findlay case in the UK which I will comment on in the next few days.

There are people in privileged positions who are allowed to lay their own horses - bookmakers. It's well known that some of the biggest bookmakers around own horses - in Australia, Colin Tidy and Michael Sullivan; in the UK, Victor Chandler; just to name a few of the recognisable names. If they ever tried laying one of their own to win a fortune, only to see it pulled up, they would be hauled over the coals big time. If Neville Clements or Harry Findlay want to be able to lay horses they are connected to, directly or indirectly, without suspicion and with an audit trail directly accessible to stewards, then how about creating a licence somewhere between bookmaker and owner? Bring it under the auspices of racing officials, let them do whatever they like on the proviso they know they are being watched and charge them a reasonable fee for the privilege.

Is it that difficult?

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