IN his widely-read column, ‘SILKS & SADDLES,’ published by the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS reports that the Cairns Jockey Club has changed its stance on visiting owners and licensees after a wake-up call from Racing Queensland.

Butts also questions whether reports are correct that John Nikolic, brother on controversial jockey Danny Nikolic, has been relicensed as a trainer by Racing Queensland after serving a year-long disqualification over the Baby Boom bona fides case.

He also tells of a visit to Tully by three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Glen Boss last week that left the local TAB broke when he rode two winners at Caulfield on Saturday. There is also a report on the Townsville Amateurs and how it struggles to regain its former glory.

Here is the Butts column:



TULLY the unique little town midway between Townsville and Cairns - known for the fact that it rains every day (well almost) and boasts the best bananas in the land.

They reckon there are more millionaires per square foot than in any other place in the country. And most walk around barefoot…and minus a raincoat, of course.

And it’s one of the few little towns in Queensland that doesn’t have a racecourse - the nearest is Innisfail 100km away.

But it doesn’t matter. Tully can still attract some of the  big names in the racing game, just as it did last Thursday night.

It was a visit too that left the TAB dry after a bloke named Glen Boss rode the last two winners at Caulfield on Saturday.

For on Thursday night the jockey, as special guest of Suncorp, mixed with a group of locals at the RSL. It is a night the banana farmers and the cane and cattle cockies will never forget.

They listened in awe as Boss told them of the resilience, hope and confidence needed after he broke his neck and nearly died in a race fall in Macau. 

Of how he ‘fluked’ the association with Makybe Diva after his plum mount at the time, Republican Lass, broke down.

And he described in great detail his treasured, unforgettable moments with the Diva. You could hear a pin drop. 

And later they drank from the three Melbourne Cups that Glen and the great mare won.

And then the hardened growers of tea, bananas, sugar and the dairy farmers and  the cockies jostled to have their photo taken with the famous little jockey and his Cups.

Not often a Group-winning jockey pulls up at Tully, a town hardly known for its association with racing.

But Bossy did. And he left them not only with great, unforgettable memories of a top night out- but with a tip.

Lady Melksham in the second last at Caulfield - and it duly saluted.

They reckon the only people working late on Saturday in teeming Tully were the bar staff and the payout clerk at the local TAB.



THE CEO of the Cairns Jockey Club and some of his committee didn’t mind the pre-publicity for their Cup meeting last weekend and were quite happy with the reviews.

But they didn’t like the rub about the way they treated some of the visiting owners and licensees.

One of the senior committeemen, Kevin Capra, sent this to yours truly after last week’s column: “That would be the lowest act any journo could possibly pull writing an article as degrading as yours after all the hard work put in by our CEO and committee.”

Unfortunately, Kevin, you chose to steer clear of the facts.

It was you and your club that snubbed the visiting licensees, and your Chairman admits it, and has apologized.

Is it true Kevin that, after consultation with Racing Queensland (that resulted from that column piece), Cairns Jockey Club (and the Amateurs) has agreed to set aside an area for owners and licensees at future meetings?

And whose decision was it for the CEO to call a prominent owner last week to arrange a ‘meeting.’ The same owner who was snubbed by the same CEO when asked could he watch his horses run from the Members’ Stand on Cup day because it provided an unobstructed view of the race.

All this resulted because of Capra’s interpretation of a ‘low act of journalism.’



WHAT I could have mentioned, but didn’t, was the state of the Cairns track on Cup weekend.

Everyone knows it is in urgent need of repair, but one has to question its ability to handle a double-header.

Shane Pawsey, an experienced jockey and one who has plenty of experience in landscaping and turf care, said he has never seen a track deteriorate so fast in two days.

“From a very good on Saturday to a very bad on Sunday” was his summation.

Anthony Merritt was more to the point: “Worst track I have ever ridden on. I’d sooner ride at Charters Towers.”

And Peter Cullen, the Cup-winning jockey, agreed.



WHILE controversial jockey Danny Nikolic is attracting plenty of bad media coverage in Victoria courtesy of The Age – Four Corners expose, his elder brother John (who also got a mention in the recent dispatches) has, according to the rumor mill, been licensed to train in Queensland.

The story goes that he was last week relicensed to train from RQ and that he has rented six boxes with trainer Mel Eggleston on the Gold Coast. 

That is the same week that  poor old Nippy Seymour, the current secretary and general factotum of the Hughenden Race Club, and without whom there would be no racing in that town, was told he must face a Work Place Health and Safety  charge at Cloncurry Magistrate’s Court in December.

Nippy has already lost his trainer’s licence over the bandage fiasco at Julia Creek last November. No one knows for certain how the bandage came off and whether in fact it caused the fall that took the life of a young jockey Corey Gilby in a two-horse gallop after the last race.

No one knows for certain who in fact put the bandage on the horse, and there are conflicting statements from the other jockey whether the bandage actually caused the fatal incident.

Many believe there was enough doubt created that Nippy should have benefited.

But he hasn’t and Racing Queensland stewards found him guilty of negligence and its now on appeal.

Frankly, what happened at Julia Creek was an accident – pure and simple.

So why do the authorities continue to badger and harass him?

A gentle giant of a man who has spent his entire life doing favors for others – and continues to do so in spite of his treatment.



WE do point out that John Nikolic, despite being reportedly involved in recent police investigations in Victoria and property raids in Queensland, has been charged with nothing.

As for the previous inquiry in Queensland he was disqualified for a year and has served that time so RQL will no doubt argue that nothing prevents him from being relicensed as a trainer.

Here are the details of the Stewards’ Inquiry that involved John Nikolic previously:

Racing Queensland Limited (RQL) stewards in early February 2011 held an inquiry to determine charges leveled against Mr John Nikolic and licensed trainer Ms Annalaise Moir relating to the bona fides of the ownership of the registered thoroughbred Baby Boom between the period of March 10, 2010 to June 11, 2010.

Whilst the matter was investigated some time beforehand, the hearing was delayed until another matter had been determined which legally considered the stewards jurisdiction.

After considering the evidence gathered by RQL investigative stewards, together with evidence heard at an inquiry on October 5, 2010, stewards issued two charges against Mr John Nikolic. The first under AR56B which read:

Any person who, in the opinion of the Stewards, fails to declare any share or interest, misrepresents or provides any misleading or inaccurate information regarding the ownership of a horse, or is a party to any breach of this rule, may be penalized by the Stewards and the horse may be disqualified.

The specifics of the charge being that Mr John Nikolic did fail to declare an interest regarding the ownership of the registered racehorse Baby Boom by indicating on the Transfer of a Racehorse document dated March 10, 2010 that he was an outgoing owner when in fact he maintained an interest in the ownership of the registered thoroughbred Baby Boom.

The second charge was issued under AR175(q) which read:

The Committee of any Club or the Stewards may penalise;

(q) Any person who in their opinion is guilty of any misconduct, improper conduct or unseemly behaviour

The specifics of the charge being that on June 1, 2010 during a phone conversation between Mr John Nikolic and licensed trainer Annalise Moir regarding her provision of information to RQL investigative stewards, Mr John Nikolic did misconduct himself by verbally abusing Annalise Moir.

Mr Nikolic pleaded not guilty to both charges.

After carefully considering all of the evidence stewards found Mr Nikolic guilty of both charges.

In respect to the positive finding on first charge under AR56B stewards disqualified Mr John Nikolic for one year to commence immediately and to expire at midnight February 7, 2012.

Mr Nikolic was advised that Baby Boom would be disqualified from its first placing at the Gold Coast Turf Club on May 27, 2010.

In respect to the positive finding on the second charge under AR175(q) stewards issued a fine of $3000.



IT was once the sparkling jewel on North Queensland’s racing calendar – a  meeting not to be missed, and seldom was.

But nowadays the Townsville Amateurs is but a mere shadow of its former self.

The demise of the NQATC's carnival is a tragedy.

In its glory days they came from all over the State - from Burketown to Boulia and across borders for the two-day meeting.

Ball tickets were unobtainable, the meet and greet on Wednesday was also a sellout. Then the races on Thursday followed the Ball, Cup day on Saturday and a massive party at Cluden on Sunday.

This week it is a one-day affair on a date wedged between the Cairns Cup and Cairns Amateurs - a date that gives it little hope of recovery to its former glory.

And that is a shame!

What the Townsville Amateurs needs is the old Carlton sponsorship (or a national company of similar repute) and a return to the old Cox Plate (late October) date.

It would, I am sure, bring back the visitors.

Townsville Amateurs once compared more than favorably with the Cairns Amateurs, and in today’s climate a resurrection is not impossible but badly needed.

The Bentley regime, and the outbreak of EI, put the nail in the coffin of the Townsville Amateurs. Queensland Racing yook away a TAB date and halved the prize-money.

Maybe it is time for some compensation. It is either that or capitulation.



TERRY BUTTS can be contacted by e-mailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..