Nikolic wastes no time

Danny Nikolic made sure he stayed in the spotlight after being cleared of serious charges on Tuesday when he rode a winning double at his first two rides on the new synthetic track at Geelong.

Nikolic had four rides at Wednesday’s meeting which was a Melbourne Racing Club fixture transferred from Sandown due to the extremely heavy conditions there.

However Nikolic nearly missed making it to Geelong after his car broke down.
“I was just lucky that (fellow jockey) Ben Melham stopped and picked me up,” he said.

Nikolic struck in the opening event, guiding the Peter Snowden-trained Screen to victory in the Sufficient Hcp (1000m) and landed his double aboard Avelon Royale in the Shizu Hcp (1000m) for Cranbourne trainer Nikki Burke.

A big drifter in the betting from her opening price of $2.80 to start at $5.50, Screen was slow to jump away in the small field of seven and settled near last.

But Nikolic was at his best gaining a split in the closing stages to get her up to beat Whiner ($13) by a half-length with $3 favourite Fifth Elephant a long neck away third.

“She would have been a good thing beaten if I had got beaten,” Nikolic said.

“All the way up the running I was looking for a chance to let her go. She did relax quite well and Paul (Snowden’s son and Melbourne stable foreman) had the opinion that she has good ability but she just overdoes things early in her races.

“She was a bit tardy out so I just put my hands down on her and she relaxed well and she hit the line really well.”

Nikolic was impressed with the new synthetic surface which staged its first meeting with a Geelong Racing Club fixture on Tuesday and has another on Friday.

“I’ve ridden on a similar track to this in Singapore. This track is racing really fair. I think it is a good surface,” he said.

The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Tuesday dismissed two charges against Nikolic relating to improper practices in connection with racing and a further two of conduct prejudicial to the interests of racing.

Wednesday’s double was his first metropolitan winners for the month and third overall since June 1.

Nikolic admitted that a lot of people had “dropped off”.

“But I’ve actually found a lot of friends who I didn’t realise were so solid towards me,” he said.

“I’ve been coping pretty good with all this, but when you can go home and have a good night’s sleep and know that you don’t have to worry about anything, it’s a big, big relief.”