I hope I don’t come across as an apologist for corrupt participants in racing in this. On the contrary I’d love to see some positive steps taken to ensure the integrity of the sport and I’d especially love to see police be able to share information more freely with racing authorities about the undesirables that are involved in racing and the jockeys, trainers and other licensed people that they associate with.
Four Corners on Monday night and The Age this week have made allegations that Dan Nikolic and Mark Zahra conspired to fix a race at Cranbourne. The allegation in the program and the articles amount to:
- Nikolic rode the winner;
- The favourite didn’t win;
- Zahra rode to get the favourite beaten; and
- Nikolic’s family and friends backed the winner.
Nothing in the program or the articles since has said what Zahra is supposed to have done to get the favourite beaten, the program didn’t even show the race in full and point out who was where in the running, that would have allowed people to draw some conclusions of their own. The only comment made about the running of the race by anyone who was supposed to know anything about racing was that Nikolic rode the perfect race.
If I was going to publicly accuse someone of race fixing, I’d want to be able to back it up with some information about what it is they are supposed to have done.
To further the argument that racing is inherently corrupt, the program trotted out the ‘jockey tapes’ scandal involving Jim Cassidy and some asides about his association with Tony Mokbel, as well as the Pillar of Hercules situation where the horse was owned by the Mokbel family but proxies were listed as the owners. More evidence was that Horty Mokbel is not in gaol and goes to a TAB where he talks to other organised crime figures.
There have been rumours for years about Dan Nikolic not always riding to win, you would like to see those rumours properly tested in an investigation so that he can either be drummed out of the sport or left alone to get on with his career. Mark Zahra has now lost a lucrative position with Darley
In the end, the program came across as Today Tonight style tabloid rubbish but if it’s a step towards a proper integrity regime for racing it will be worth it. What is needed is a suite of appropriate powers such as the ability to intercept telephones and examine financial records and cooperation with police.