Jockey stood down as race probe widens
VICTORIAN detectives are examining a $70,000 betting win by millionaire horse owner and convicted drug dealer Peter Jones on a race allegedly fixed by his friend, champion jockey Danny Nikolic.
The revelation comes after Nikolic was yesterday suspended by racing officials for allegedly threatening Victoria’s chief racing steward Terry Bailey, whose stewards are also probing Nikolic for race fixing.
Mr Bailey contacted the Victoria Police yesterday about the alleged threat – which sources said involved his family home – while Racing Victoria arranged for a security detail to be on standby to protect Mr Bailey.
In an interview with a racing media outlet yesterday, Nikolic denied threatening Mr Bailey and said that his comments involved only a light-hearted reference from a television commercial.
The Age can reveal that Peter William Jones is one of four associates of the Nikolic family who made relatively large bets, or collected winnings totalling about $200,000, in connection to Nikolic’s ride on Smoking Aces 15 months ago.
The Age revealed last month that police are investigating whether Nikolic, along with at least one other jockey and several other high-profile racing figures, conspired to fix the Cranbourne race.
It is understood the Perth-based Mr Jones bet about $10,000 on Smoking Aces and collected winnings of about $70,000. Another Nikolic associate who bet on Smoking Aces was former AFL player and jockey adviser Mark Hunter.
When The Age contacted Mr Jones yesterday and asked him about his betting on Smoking Aces, he said he could not comment.
”I can’t talk about anything … there is an ongoing inquiry,” said Mr Jones, whose horses race across Australia and who is connected to some of the sport’s highest-profile figures.
Mr Jones is the part owner of a horse called Bolton which won another race that also featured Nikolic- the $100,000 Victoria Cup – and which is also under investigation by stewards.
In the past fortnight,
stewards have been examining Nikolic’s controversial ride in February’s Victoria Cup race on Royal Mail, which ran third to Bolton.
Mr Jones is a friend of Nikolic, who has ridden several of his horses. The pair have regularly socialised together.
Mr Jones, who has made millions in the telecommunications industry, is a former bankrupt who was sentenced in 1998 to a two-year suspended jail term in connection to a $100,000 hydroponic marijuana crop.
On the allegation that he threatened Mr Bailey, Nikolic told TVN yesterday that all he said to Mr Bailey was ”Keep your eyes on the road, Terry”.
Nikolic said this was a reference to an RACV Insurance commercial and that Mr Bailey misunderstood his reference.
Nikolic and Bailey have endured a tumultuous relationship in recent years and yesterday’s confrontation is not the first time the pair have clashed.
In 2010, Racing Victoria stewards opened an inquiry into several of Nikolic’s rides, including allegations that he had given punters inside information about races in which he was riding. In June 2010, a racing board found that despite evidence raising suspicions about Nikolic’s behaviour, there was insufficient evidence to prove misconduct.
But he was fined $2000 for abusive and insulting language towards Bailey during the investigation.