Tag Archive for: Robbie Dunne

Robbie Dunne has suspension reduced to 10 months on appeal

Robbie Dunne has had his 18-month suspension for bullying and harassing fellow jockey Bryony Frost reduced to 10 months on appeal.

Dunne had initially been found in breach of four charges of rule (J)19 which covers conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing, for a series of incidents between February 13, 2020 and September 3, 2020.

However, despite agreeing that Dunne had been guilty of breaching rule (J)19, Appeal Board chair Anthony Boswood QC felt one breach of the rule, rather than the previous four, covered all the offences.

As his suspension began on December 10, 2021 it will end on October 9, 2022.

Bryony Frost, pictured at Warwick racecourse
Bryony Frost, pictured at Warwick racecourse (Adam Davy/PA)

In summing up Boswood said: “We wish to make it clear we think Mr Dunne’s behaviour was thoroughly reprehensible and any jockey behaving like that in future must accept serious punishment.

“We think the (original) sentence was, however, very severe, as it represented the minimum entry point six times higher than that for rule (J)20, which was also charged. We think it was severe given the number of rides Mr Dunne will have lost to date and will lose in the future and this late stage of his career.

“We also think that maybe the disciplinary panel gave insufficient credit for items of mitigation such as his attempted apology after the Stratford race – which Bryony Frost refused to accept, which she was fully entitled to do, and the refusal to take part in the ‘banging of heads’ proposed by Richard Johnson and her father Jimmy Frost at Kempton. Again she didn’t want to participate, a position she was fully entitled to take – but Mr Dunne was prepared to take part.

“So we have decided to reduce the suspension to 10 months.”

Dunne had been found by the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority to have threatened Frost at Southwell by promising to “put her through a wing (of a fence)” and he was also accused of using misogynistic language such as “f****** whore”, “f****** slut” and “dangerous c***” towards her.

Dunne’s team felt the initial penalty handed out of an 18-month ban was “an unjust and unfair decision” based on the premise that the language he had used towards Frost was not taken into the context as it was used in the weighing room.

Robin Matthew QC, a former permit holder who had been drafted in by Dunne since the initial hearing, told the appeal hearing he felt the original disciplinary panel had been led astray by not placing enough emphasis on the testimony of several of Dunne’s weighing-room colleagues over the Southwell incident.

Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters after the initial hearing
Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters after the initial hearing (Yui Mok/PA)

Matthew said that term, or when jockeys would say they would “murder you”, as Frost claimed Dunne had also said, were common in the weighing room and there was evidence to suggest something similar would be said every day.

Matthew sought to reinforce Dunne’s claim that it was a widely held view that Frost’s riding style was dangerous and that it was odd that evidence from fellow jockeys who were said to have agreed should be discounted, more that it was Dunne who took it upon himself to tell her of their concerns.

“That is how his behaviour has to be judged,” said Matthew.

Matthew also said the evidence provided by former amateur jockey Hannah Welch should not have been given as much weight as it was as it did not relate to the period in question and she had very little experience – a point BHA representative Louis Weston QC took umbrage with.

While Dunne’s team agreed a tweet which mocked Frost, sent before the virtual Grand National, was “silly”, they argued most jockeys would have laughed it off but given the mood Frost was in she was not prepared to do so.

Another aspect brought up in the appeal was the key witness from the original trial, the fence attendant at Stratford, but Matthew stated his view of the incident could have been “over-egged” due to aspects of the evidence being leaked to the press. That was a notion Weston rubbished as the witness did not come forward until after the BHA sent out a notice informing there would be a hearing.

Matthew concluded by saying the penalty should be discernible for each offence but that they felt the 18-month ban was excessive as it could do “long-lasting damage or even terminate” his career. “This is not the type of penalty we would envisage being handed out for a breach of these rules,” he said.

Weston, who spoke for over an hour, made the point that Dunne’s use of misogynistic language was prejudicial to the reputation of racing.

“That language was inappropriate and you should have no hesitation in agreeing that the panel made a reasonable decision,” said Weston on the initial finding.

“The appellant (Dunne) would have it that the proper test to apply is one of self-regulation, and that cannot possibly be right in the view of the BHA.

“This was a particularly unpleasant case of sustained conduct and a very experienced panel reached the decision they did.”

Following the appeal verdict, the BHA issued a statement in which it said: “The independent Appeal Board has today upheld the decision of the independent disciplinary panel that Robbie Dunne is in breach of rule (J)19 in that his conduct was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing in Great Britain. We acknowledge their decision to amend the penalty he will serve and await the full reasons in relation to that aspect.

“This reduction in penalty in no way diminishes the recognition of the severity of the allegations that were brought against Mr Dunne. Indeed, it continues to send a clear message that conduct of this nature cannot be tolerated in any working environment within our sport.”

It added: “Once again, we recognise that this has been a challenging period for all involved in this complex and emotive case, and we ask that the privacy and well-being of both parties is respected as they continue to receive the support of the appropriate bodies and those close to them.”

Date confirmed for Dunne appeal

Robbie Dunne’s appeal against the suspension imposed for bullying and harassing fellow jockey Bryony Frost will be heard by the British Horseracing Authority’s appeal board next month.

The rider was banned for 18 months, with three months suspended, after being found to have engaged in conduct at the track, online and in the weighing room that was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing following an independent disciplinary panel hearing in December.

Dunne lodged his appeal against both the findings of the disciplinary panel and the penalty imposed on January 20, with the appeal hearing set for March 30.

The rider is currently suspended from December 10, 2021 until March 9, 2023 inclusive.

Robbie Dunne lodges appeal against 18-month ban

Robbie Dunne has appealed against his 18-month ban for bullying and harassing weighing-room colleague Bryony Frost.

Dunne, 36 – who denied all but one of the charges brought against him – was banned for 18 months, three of which were suspended, after being judged to have engaged in conduct at the track, online and in the weighing room that was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing following an independent British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing in December.

Dunne initially had seven days to lodge his appeal from the time the written reasons for the verdict were published on January 6, but an application for an extension to January 20 was granted by the disciplinary panel. He has now appealed against both the findings of the disciplinary panel and the penalty imposed.

Jockey Bryony Frost
Jockey Bryony Frost (Danny Lawson/PA)

The BHA said in a statement: “The independent judicial panel has received an appeal from the representatives of Robbie Dunne in relation to the finding and penalty imposed on him by the disciplinary panel after its recent hearing.

“The independent judicial panel will now convene an appeal board for the hearing and liaise with representatives of all parties regarding a potential date for the hearing, which will be communicated in due course.”

The BHA added it will not comment on the appeal proceedings while they remain ongoing.

Robbie Dunne granted seven-day extension for appeal decision

Jockey Robbie Dunne has been granted a seven-day extension to decide whether to appeal against his 18-month ban for bullying and harassing weighing room colleague Bryony Frost.

Dunne, 36 – who denied all but one of the charges – was banned for 18 months, three of which were suspended, after being judged to have engaged in conduct at the track, online and in the weighing room that was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing following a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing in December.

The rider had seven days to lodge his appeal from the time the written reasons of the hearing were published, which was January 6.

However, an application for an extension has been granted by the disciplinary panel.

In a statement on Monday the BHA said: “Following an application on behalf of Robbie Dunne, the disciplinary panel has agreed to extend the deadline for Mr Dunne’s decision on appeal to January 20, 2022.”

Robbie Dunne has seven days to appeal ban in Bryony Frost case

Robbie Dunne has seven days in which to appeal the findings of the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority that ruled he bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost.

Dunne, 36 – who denied all but one of the charges – was banned for 18 months, three of which were suspended, after being judged to have engaged in conduct at the track, online and in the weighing room that was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing.

In the publication of its written reasons for the ruling on Thursday, the three-person panel, which was chaired by Brian Baxter QC, said it concluded the case “overwhelmingly called for a penalty of some potency”.

Jockey Bryony Frost
Jockey Bryony Frost (Adam Davy/PA)

It found that Dunne breached Rule (J)19 on four separate occasions, and had subjected Frost to a sustained campaign of bullying between February and September 2020, concluding that it was a “deliberate, unwarranted targeting of a colleague over a considerable time” and that “the strikingly aggravating feature was the determined consistency, in the knowledge that Ms Frost could not prepare herself for what would come next, as she was unable to predict what or where it would be”.

In making two points in a postscript to the written reasons for its judgement, the panel wrote: “First, at what point proved conduct crosses the line to become prejudicial within the meaning of Rule (J)19 or offences, on their facts, merit condign punishment, requires careful thought.

“In this case we were not troubled by any borderline decision on either guilt or sanction. The threshold in Rule (J)19 was plainly crossed and this case overwhelmingly called for a penalty of some potency. In future hearings, however, the decision might be less clear cut. In areas outwith racing, indeed outwith sport, difficult questions are sometimes said best to be answered on a case-by-case basis.

“Second, as part of our inquiry, we had to consider the culture, as it was often described, amongst the community of professional jockeys or in the weighing room. As these reasons show, we had some concerns about it. Our role was to inquire into the conduct of Mr Dunne. It is for others to reflect upon more general matters. We confine ourselves to recording our concern arising out of the specific facts of this particular case.”

Dunne is currently suspended from December 10 2021 until March 9 2023 inclusive.

Industry-wide group launched to address behavioural issues in racing

British racing’s major stakeholders have joined forces in a bid to address problems of behaviour within the sport following the Robbie Dunne bullying case.

Dunne was last week found by the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority to have bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost, being banned for 18 months as a result, with three months suspended.

The BHA, National Trainers Federation, Professional Jockeys Association, National Association of Racing Staff, Racehorse Owners Association, Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the Racecourse Association have united in a commitment to ensure “horseracing remains a progressive, modern industry when it comes to the conduct of our people”.

Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority's headquarters in London last week
Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority’s headquarters in London last week (Yui Mok/PA)

In a joint-statement, they said: “British racing is a diverse industry where individuals of varying identities and from a wide range of backgrounds work and compete side by side. It is a sport characterised by the shared values of camaraderie and conscientiousness which come hand in hand with working in an elite sport alongside equine athletes.

“It is essential that horseracing remains a progressive, modern industry when it comes to the conduct of our people. We must prioritise the well-being and development of our workforce, stand against discrimination of any kind in British racing, and invest in making racing a safe, fulfilling place to work.

“Great progress has already been made by the industry in terms of improving standards around training, education, employment practices, well-being, safeguarding and career development, with the entire sport involved in making racing a better place to work.

“However, there is always more that can and must be done. We must encourage a culture of openness and seek to support anyone who faces problems or has found themselves in difficulty. We must promote a culture of respect in how those involved in racing interact with one another and promote more diversity and inclusion at all levels of the industry.

“The signatories to this statement, therefore, today publicly commit to further improve standards, education and training around industry conduct, through the formation of a dedicated cross-industry working party.”  

Bryony Frost at Warwick racecourse
Bryony Frost at Warwick racecourse (Adam Davy/PA)

All the signatories have agreed to take part in a working party which will report into the industry People Board and will have the objectives of promoting the positive elements of conduct, educating participants, deter poor behaviour and any form of discrimination while calling out conduct which falls short of the joint expectations.

The group will be chaired by the BHA and include representatives from all the relevant bodies and the people that they represent. 

The working party will, as a priority, develop a specific action plan, which will be underpinned by research into the most effective examples of positive behaviour change from other industries.

It has amongst its objectives ensuring that the new code of conduct is properly communicated, explained and understood and that it achieves its objectives of raising standards of behaviour and conduct within the sport.

PJA chief accepts Bryony Frost was bullied and not ‘felt’ bullied

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, has accepted the organisation was wrong to say Bryony Frost had “felt” bullied by fellow rider Robbie Dunne in the aftermath of Thursday’s conclusion to the high-profile British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing.

Dunne was banned for 18 months, with three months suspended, after the independent panel found he had bullied and harassed Frost, engaging in conduct on the track, in the weighing room and online that was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing.

The PJA statement issued following that verdict criticised both the British Horseracing Authority investigation and the panel, while expressing sympathy that Frost “felt” bullied – a statement Struthers acknowledged to be wrong.

Speaking to Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme, Struthers said: “Yes, we do accept the disciplinary panel’s judgement on that and their decision that she was. These are really unique circumstances, it’s the first time we’ve had a case like this involving bullying allegations pitting one member against another.

Bryony Frost was found to have been bullied and harassed by fellow jockey Robbie Dunne
Bryony Frost was found to have been bullied and harassed by fellow jockey Robbie Dunne (Adam Davy/PA)

“We have a job to support both and we had one member making very serious allegations and another maintaining their innocence of all bar one of them.

“We were trying to find the words that walked that tightrope and we understand why it has caused the issues that it has and why we do want to make clear that we do accept the disciplinary panel’s finding that Bryony was bullied and the language used was deeply and grossly inappropriate.

“We certainly accept we could have phrased it differently, I think there is that balance between the two polar opposite positions of the individuals involved in this case.”

In October the PJA had called on the BHA to bring the case to a close, claiming a fair hearing would be “impossible” after details of the report were leaked to a newspaper.

In Thursday’s statement the PJA said Dunne had been subjected to a process that was not “remotely fair”.

Struthers now concedes the initial insistence the case be dropped could have been a mistake, but believes the process itself needs further scrutiny.

He said: “Maybe it was an error and it would certainly have made life easier had we not made that call. I think there are things about the process, in particular in this case, but I think it is an issue we have had for some time about the process that licensed individuals face and concerns about the process.

Robbie Dunne has been banned for 18 months, with three months suspended
Robbie Dunne has been banned for 18 months, with three months suspended (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I think undoubtedly the panel conducted a process that was as fair as it could be. The problem we have, and I know this is unpopular, is we don’t think the whole process is fair. Regardless of that, we do accept the panel’s verdict.”

Struthers also admits the organisation has work to do surrounding the issue of trust in the weighing room – where the culture was described as “rancid” during the hearing by Louis Weston QC, representing the BHA.

Struthers added: “There clearly wasn’t that trust there between the PJA and Bryony.

“We need to reflect on that, we will need to learn from that. We will need to learn and see what we can do to make sure that is the case, we are certainly aware there are others who have felt that about the PJA and have trusted us.

“We don’t criticise Bryony in the slightest for going to the BHA – that is absolutely someone’s right.”

Tim Naylor, BHA director of integrity and direction, also appeared on Luck On Sunday and reflected on how both his organisation and the PJA can move forward following the hearing.

“The important thing with any investigation or case is that you learn from it. It doesn’t matter the result, we always reflect on our investigation, how the case was managed and run and we will learn those lessons that we need to learn,” he said.

BHA headquarters in London, where the hearing took place
BHA headquarters in London, where the hearing took place (John Stillwell/PA)

“In this case, clearly it took a long time for this matter to be brought before the judicial panel. It was charged in April, we need to look at that. We need to think that whilst we need to balance the right of any individual to respond and to make legal submissions, ultimately we need to get these things heard properly and quickly.

“We will go away, we will look at that and we will see what improvements could have been made.”

Of the future of the relationship between the two organisations, Naylor said: “It was great to hear from Paul this morning and the tone that Paul set with his comments.

“I support Paul fully for doing that. Paul has said this morning that Bryony was bullied and that’s an important first step and it’s an important step to reach out to Bryony and for the PJA and BHA to learn from this experience.

“That’s the important thing now, we’ve had an incredibly important case for racing, it was right that it was heard, it was right that it was heard publicly.

“There can’t be any suggestion of racing hiding away from these issues, of trying to bury them under the carpet.

“That hasn’t happened, we’ve met them head on. What comes with that is the tension afterwards, but we’re now in a better place as a result because we can have these important conversations.

“I can sit down with Paul, we can talk about what’s happened and we can look to improve things.”

Dunne case – how does racing move forward?

Jockey Robbie Dunne was given an 18-month ban by the British Horseracing Authority on Thursday after being found in breach on four counts of conduct prejudicial to racing after the disciplinary panel ruled he had bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost.

Dunne’s suspension is effective immediately, with the last three months of the 18-month period intended to be served as a suspended sentence.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the situation arose.

Who is Robbie Dunne?

Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters in London
Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters in London (Yui Mok/PA)

Dublin-born Dunne, 36, initially undertook spells with Dermot Weld and Arthur Moore before riding freelance and eventually moving to Britain to ply his trade. He struck up a fruitful connection with Venetia Williams in the UK, earning a regular slot aboard dual Grade Three winner Rigadin De Beauchene, while Hilary Parrott’s Wayward Prince won both the Grimthorpe Chase and the Scottish Grand National for him in 2015. More recently Dunne has been successful several times aboard Ian Williams’ Dragon Bones, who he rode to a Listed win at Doncaster in March.

Who is Bryony Frost?

Frost at Hereford Racecourse
Frost at Hereford Racecourse (David Davies/PA)

Frost, 26, is the daughter of Grand National-winning jockey turned trainer Jimmy Frost. She shot to prominence when winning the 2017 Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival aboard Pacha Du Polder before turning professional and winning her first Grade One aboard Black Corton later that year. She became the first female jockey to win a Grade One over obstacles at the Festival when taking the 2019 Ryanair Chase on Frodon and was also crowned champion conditional jockey that campaign. Frost, who regularly rides for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, also won the 2020 King George VI Chase aboard Frodon and recently enjoyed another top-level success aboard that horse when he took the Champion Chase at Down Royal in late October. Frost’s most recent significant triumph was at Sandown on December 4, when she won the Tingle Creek aboard Nicholls’ Greaneteen.

What allegations were made?

Dunne at Uttoxeter
Dunne at Uttoxeter (Mike Egerton/PA)

Frost made an official complaint to the BHA in September 2020, reporting several instances of bullying and harassment that she had suffered at the hands of Dunne. Seven breaches were established from her complaint, four of conduct prejudicial to the reputation of horseracing and three of violent and improper behaviour. Dunne was alleged to have threatened Frost by promising to “put her through a wing” and is also accused of using misogynistic language such as “f****** whore”, “f****** slut” and “dangerous c***” towards her. The BHA’s then head of integrity, Chris Watts, spoke to Dunne, Frost and several witnesses and filed a 120-page report on his findings.

What did the BHA do next?

Equine Flu Outbreak

Watts left his role in September 2021, after which elements of the report were leaked to the Sunday Times via a currently unidentified source. As a result of the leak, the Professional Jockeys Association called for the case to be dropped over concerns that a fair hearing was no longer possible. However, the BHA opted to continue the case, officially charging Dunne with conduct “prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horse racing in by bullying and harassing a fellow licensed jockey”. Dunne denied all but one of the charges and disputed the language used in the admitted breach.

When did the hearing take place?

The London headquarters of the British Horseracing Authority
The London headquarters of the British Horseracing Authority (John Stillwell/PA)

The hearing took place before an independent panel comprising of Brian Barker QC, James O’Mahony and Alison Royston. It began at the BHA headquarters in High Holborn, London, on November 30 and ran for five days with Dunne represented by Roderick Moore and Louis Weston as the BHA counsel.

What did the BHA say?

Weston told the panel that Dunne had used “foul, sexually abusive and misogynistic language towards her (Frost) and threatened to cause her serious physical harm by injuring her at the racecourse”. They reviewed footage of one of the allegations, where Dunne could be seen shouting and pointing at Frost, and heard evidence from a fence attendant at Stratford who overheard Dunne calling Frost a “f****** slut”. Former rider Hannah Welch also gave testimony and described her own altercation with Dunne, who she accused of shouting and swearing at her, with three valets providing evidence having been present during some of the incidents. Frost gave evidence in person and tearfully told the panel “to me, personally, the isolation I felt for speaking out, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone”.

What did Robbie Dunne say?

Robbie Dunne after winning the Scottish Grand National
Robbie Dunne after winning the Scottish Grand National (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Dunne attributed his issues with Frost to her style of riding, saying she rode “irresponsibly” on occasions and that other jockeys agreed with him. Tom Scudamore, Nico de Boinville, Ben Poste and Lucy Gardner, as well as former jockeys Richard Johnson and Lizzie Kelly, all gave evidence. Johnson described having tried to smooth out the issues between the two parties with the help of valet Chris Maude, who also provided his testimony. Dunne also alleged he had received a threatening phone call from an individual with a West Country accent and suggested that the bullying claims had been raised after those behind the call realised they had “gone too far”.

What was the conclusion?

The panel found Dunne to be in breach on all four counts of prejudicial conduct, with the three counts of violent and improper behaviour not considered as the former breach carries a higher tariff. Barker, head of the panel, said “a course of deliberate conduct over a significant period of time has been revealed” which had “progressed from distasteful targeting to deliberate harassment on and off the course and onwards to occasional cases of dangerous bullying”.

What was the sanction?

Dunne at Aintree on December 4
Dunne at Aintree on December 4 (Tim Goode/PA)

Dunne was banned for 18 months, the final three of which is suspended, and no financial penalty has been applied. The ban is effective immediately, although Dunne has seven days to lodge an appeal. Barker said Dunne’s “behaviour and language would not be tolerated in any other walk of life or workplace”.

What was Frost’s reaction?

Frost winning at Warwick shortly before the hearing reached its conclusion
Frost after winning at Warwick shortly before the hearing reached its conclusion (Adam Davy/PA)

Frost issued a statement after the ruling that read: “I would like to thank every individual including the racing public that has supported me not only during the last couple of weeks but throughout. I wish now to take a few days to reflect on the outcome before I make any further comment.”

What did the BHA and PJA think of the verdict?

While chief executive Julie Harrington praised Frost’s bravery and spoke of a “potentially seminal moment” for racing, she also moved to distance the BHA from Weston’s suggestion the weighing-room culture was “rancid” – a statement that sparked condemnation from the PJA. The riders’ union expressed sympathy for Frost and admitted Dunne’s conduct had fallen short, but rejected any broader concerns made about jockeys’ conduct within the sport, doubling down on their earlier submission the hearing was unfair and saying it had “lost confidence” in the disciplinary panel due to its “failure to ever criticise the BHA, its case management and its processes”.

How does racing move forward?

There is little doubt the length of time taken to process the case – and the newspaper leak – have hardened positions on both sides, but the parties must come together if harmony is to be restored. An industry-wide code of conduct is in the works and plans to improve female changing facilities on course were recently announced, with the latter a particularly welcome move in the 21st century. Plenty of jockeys praise the camaraderie of the weighing room and likely there is more often than not a spirit of togetherness, but the BHA and PJA must now jointly find a way of steering back to steadier waters, with an updated take on what is – and is not – acceptable.

Business as usual for Bryony Frost after bullying case conclusion

Bryony Frost was winless from three rides at Doncaster on Friday as she tried to return to normality following the British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing which found Robbie Dunne had bullied and harassed her.

Dunne was handed an 18-month ban, three of which are suspended, having been found in breach on four charges of conduct prejudicial to racing.

Frost, who said she has been left isolated by the weighing room since the allegations were made, was at least made to feel welcome by racegoers on Town Moor as she made her way to the paddock for her first mount, Amenon, who finished second for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Frost did not want to add to her statement, released on Thursday, when approached for comment, but was happy to sign autographs and pose for photos with racegoers.

She went on to finish third on Flic Ou Voyou and unplaced on Neil King’s Perfect Myth.

Along with Nicholls and King, trainer Lucy Wadham forms part of the triumvirate who are Frost’s biggest supporters and she was present on Town Moor.

“I’ve probably said all I want to say on the matter, but I think she’s handled herself brilliantly through all this,” said Wadham.

Bryony Frost heads out for her first ride at Doncaster
Bryony Frost heads out for her first ride at Doncaster (Danny Lawson/PA)

“She’ll be glad it’s all over and I just hope the other jockeys can bring themselves to speak to her again now.”

King was at Cheltenham and he told Sky Sports Racing: “All credit to her with the success she’s been having on the racecourse, it’s probably one of her best seasons so far with the big-race winners she’s been riding as well.

“There’s enough pressure and tension that comes with riding big racehorses, as well as everything that’s going on in the background behind her, you can only take your hat off to her with the success she’s continued with.

“It was tough at the time of the problems going on and hearing it first hand from Bryony what was happening, you just felt powerless that nothing was being done about it. I, for one, think it’s a great shame. This should have been sorted out a long time ago – for Bryony’s sake and for Robbie’s sake. Nobody’s a winner out of it at the end of the day.

“I will be critical of the BHA and the PJA. It’s all very well the PJA coming out now and criticising, but isn’t that what they are there for? Bryony is a member as well as Robbie Dunne, why were they not there to help and stop it from getting to this stage?

“Full marks to Bryony, all the way through it she has carried herself well and her riding on the track is proof of the pudding. She’s had some very hard times and one has to feel for her that she’s going to have some more hard times within the weighing room for being honest and standing up for herself.”

Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters on Thursday
Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters on Thursday (Yui Mok/PA)

Venetia Williams, also at Cheltenham where she saddled a winner, has been a big supporter of Dunne in the past.

“It is what it is and we’ve all got to look and learn and move on,” she said.

“It’s obviously a sad period of time for everybody involved. I don’t want to be saying what’s right and wrong, it is what it is.”

On whether she’d contacted Dunne since the result, she added: “I’ve sent him a message, but I haven’t spoken to him since.”

Trainer Lucinda Russell, partner of Peter Scudamore whose son, Tom, appeared as a witness for Dunne, said: “I think racing is a fantastic sport and everyone is very supportive of each other.

“As a woman in racing I’ve never heard any bias, bullying or people being rude about me.

“I think it is a very inclusive sport. I’m sorry things have happened, but I’ve certainly never seen anything.

“I suppose being up north we don’t really see her (Frost) very much. She’s a very good jockey.

“I think the jockeys are a very close-knit team. We’re talking about a sport here.”

Peter Scudamore added: “It’s very sad. Nobody comes out with any credit from this.”

Jockey Charlie Deutsch spoke out on how hurt the weighing room is after the BHA counsel Louis Weston described the culture in there as “rancid”.

Deutsch told ITV Racing: “The BHA comments – there’s not one person in the weighing room that is rancid and there’s not a rancid atmosphere.

“There’s a lot of intelligent, kind, caring people in there and it’s affected them hugely.

“I think it’s important to let people know everyone is an individual character and they’ve tarnished everyone with the same brush. There was no need for it and it’s upset a lot of the jockeys.”

Former rider Ruby Walsh thinks the weighing room has
Former rider Ruby Walsh thinks the weighing room has “stopped working” (Simon Cooper/PA)

ITV pundit and former rider Ruby Walsh believes the weighing room has “stopped working”.

He said: “Based on the evidence surrounding this case, to say that the culture is rancid is an easy accusation to make. Do I believe that’s the culture of the entire weighing room? Most certainly not.

“That said, you have a room full of competitors and rivals. They’re not all friends, they never will be nor should they be, they are all competitors, but they represent the image of the sport and they have to uphold that. There will be rows but at times that means somebody has to tell somebody else to sit down and shut up. That doesn’t appear to have happened here and that’s what went wrong.

“‘I’m sorry’, that’s part of any altercation and in sport they will always happen but you have to go back and apologise. They’re simple words and also somebody then has to reassure the person who was heckled not to worry about it. That’s how the weighing room worked, that is how it should work but it stopped working, and that is the problem.”

Jockeys make their way ahead of the fourth race at Cheltenham on Friday
Jockeys make their way ahead of the fourth race at Cheltenham on Friday (David Davies/PA)

Jon Holmes, of the PJA, was at Cheltenham also and said: “I understand how it’s been portrayed in the media and so on, and I understand the reasons behind that. Of course I do, I’d be stupid if I didn’t.

“What I can tell you is that in the main these are professional, hard-working, decent people and there is obviously, in this case, there may be isolated incidents. I’m not going to go into that because there may be an appeal going, and we also have to look forward to where we’re going to.

“I accept that she felt bullied, absolutely, and as I say, this is subject to appeal, so I can’t go into the case, but of course I accept it. She’s one of our members, we offered help in the first place to her, through Dale (Gibson) and through Paul (Struthers). “

Professional Jockeys Association rails against ‘rancid’ weighing-room culture claims

The Professional Jockeys Association rejected claims of a “rancid” weighing-room culture after Robbie Dunne was suspended for 18 months following a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing into allegations he bullied and harassed Bryony Frost.

An independent panel on Thursday found Dunne in breach on all four counts of conduct prejudicial to horseracing and as a result his licence will be suspended with immediate effect, with three months of the ban suspended. He has seven days to lodge an appeal.

The remark about a “rancid” culture in the weighing room was made in closing submissions to the panel on Wednesday by Louis Weston, representing the BHA.

The PJA had previously appealed for the case to be terminated after elements of a preliminary report were leaked to the press, but the head of the panel, Brian Barker QC, dismissed the notion that this could be perceived as a mitigating factor.

The PJA statement read: “Before the PJA responds to the disciplinary panel’s findings, we want to make it clear that the PJA has great sympathy with Bryony Frost and takes no issue with the fact that a complaint was taken to the BHA.

Jockeys make their way out from the weighing room at Doncaster
Jockeys make their way out from the weighing room at Doncaster (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Bryony felt bullied, it certainly took courage to go through the process she has and we do not doubt the isolation she has felt. The PJA entirely accepts that Robbie Dunne’s conduct as found by the disciplinary panel fell well short of the standard the PJA expects.

“All that said, the PJA does not accept the disciplinary panel’s findings in relation to the culture within and collective behaviour of the jump jockeys’ weighing room. It is a grossly inaccurate and wholly unfair representation of the weighing room and a conclusion we believe is at odds with the evidence presented.

“The PJA does not condone bullying or the use of the type of language the disciplinary panel has concluded was used. Bullying and the use of such entirely inappropriate language cannot and will not be tolerated.

“Whilst we reject the wholesale criticism of the culture within the weighing room, everything is not perfect. There are lessons to be learnt for the PJA and its members and we recognise change is needed. This starts with creating facilities that do not require female jockeys to be in the male jockeys’ changing room in order to do their job, but doesn’t stop there.”

The PJA also issued a statement on behalf of a number of female jockeys, which it said wished to remain nameless “having seen the reaction towards anyone who has expressed such views”.

The statement read: “Firstly we would like to reassure everyone that, on the whole, our experiences within the weighing room have been overwhelmingly positive.

“With regards to the hearing involving Robbie following a complaint about his conduct by Bryony, we are really disappointed with the way us and our male colleagues have all been portrayed by the BHA and subsequently reported in the media. From our understanding, what most people are upset about is why no one has spoken up to say they heard anything and why the weighing room ‘turned a blind eye’ to bullying.

Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters in London on Thursday
Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority Headquarters in London on Thursday (Yui Mok/PA)

“One thing to consider though is if anyone thinks they heard something but don’t know for sure what was said or genuinely cannot recall, how are they supposed to stand up and be cross examined when they don’t know exactly what happened?

“It is sad that whilst one woman is being praised for speaking her truth, the rest of us have been shamed for doing the same. At no point have we condoned what is alleged to have happened – we just haven’t been able to give any evidence to support it as we don’t have any. If anyone heard anything and has held on to it, they are letting the whole weighing room down and it would be hugely disappointing.

“They (BHA) have let both Bryony and Robbie down by taking so long to deal with this, leaving it festering in the air between colleagues and in the meantime being the ultimate cause of leaks to the press. Finally, they have let us down by calling us and our male friends and colleagues liars and accusing us of turning a blind eye to bullying. You cannot turn a blind eye to something you have not seen.”

Grade One-winning rider David Bass, jumps president of the PJA, said he felt both Frost and Dunne have been let down by the BHA.

“I think it (the handling and timing) has been an absolute disgrace. I have to be careful not to get too emotive about the whole thing. I feel the way it has been handled has been shocking,” Bass told Racing TV.

“There are a lot of bitter and angry people who work in the weighing room and the language which has been used by the representative of the BHA and appeared in the papers is a disgrace.

David Bass is jumps president of the PJA
David Bass is jumps president of the PJA (Nigel French/PA)

“To call our culture rancid is disgraceful. There are certain things you could use rancid for, our facilities would be one, but to target our culture as rancid is not on and it’s very unfair to target the whole weighing room.

“This has nothing to do with Bryony and Robbie, that word has been used to target the whole weighing room. It is grossly unfair.

“None of us are condoning bullying, but to target the whole weighing room with disgusting language is completely unfair.

“As far as help is concerned we have been led poorly by the BHA. We asked for better facilities five years ago and it hasn’t happened. If we’d had better facilities this might never have happened.

“What we need is strong leadership, that is what we are lacking.”

Julie Harrington, chief executive of the BHA, spoke of a “potentially seminal moment for the sport”.

She said: “The first thing I would like to do is praise Bryony Frost for having the courage to come forward and raise her concerns. This was not easy to do, but sport needs brave pioneers such as her if change is ever going to be made.

“The investigation carried out by the BHA and the serious charges brought highlight that there is simply no room for conduct of this nature within our sport. We believe that this is an important moment for our industry.

“We understand that, for the vast majority of those who work in the weighing room it is a positive, supportive, welcoming place, and we express our respect and admiration for the skills and courage of our participants.

“However, in any environment there are inevitably going to be some people who don’t feel comfortable, and there are occasionally going to be times when lines are crossed. It is essential that when something does go wrong that people feel supported in calling it out. We would call on everyone in the industry to recognise this.

“When a line is crossed there must be avenues in place for those affected to call out bad behaviour, and know that they are going to be supported in doing so. That is one of the most important things I want people to take from this whole issue – that it is right and correct to come forward and make your voice heard, and no one should feel threatened or intimidated in doing so.

“This issue is about far more than just what happens in the weighing room. This is potentially a seminal moment for the sport, one where we stand up together and say that conduct of this nature simply cannot be tolerated in any environment.

“How we respond to it as an industry will be extremely important. We have an opportunity now to change the sport for the better.”

Gay Kelleway welcomes verdict in Dunne disciplinary hearing

Gay Kelleway – the first woman to ride a winner at Royal Ascot and now a successful trainer – welcomed the British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel ruling that Robbie Dunne bullied and harassed Bryony Frost.

An independent panel on Thursday found Dunne in breach on all four counts of conduct prejudicial to horseracing, following a hearing in High Holborn, London.

Newmarket-based Kelleway told Sky Sports Racing: “This is 40 years too late, this is what I had to suffer back in the day when I was riding and it has taken quite a few decades for a clearer vision of what lady jockeys go through.

“This is not just Bryony, a lot of lady jockeys kept schtum about a lot of things. I know one particular Flat jockey told me about her experiences, but she was too scared to say anything. At last they’ve heard Bryony and I’m delighted with the verdict.

Bryony Frost has the full support of Gay Kelleway
Bryony Frost has the full support of Gay Kelleway (Adam Davy/PA)

“I think she can move on from this – look at her, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, going through all this she won the Tingle Creek and she won today, that’s how she does the talking. She’s carried on like a professional, but thank God she had the courage to speak up.”

The culture of the weighing room came under intense security throughout the hearing.

Kelleway said: “In my day I wasn’t allowed to put my toe in the changing room, they made it very clear women jockeys were not allowed in so we had our small room to change in.

“Obviously there’s a lot more women riders now, but you don’t see Serena Williams going into Andy Murray’s changing room and racecourses needed this kick up the backside to improve facilities – and why on earth haven’t we got female valets?

“The saying of what goes on in the weighing room stays in the weighing room is a pile of you know what as far as I’m concerned, everything needs to be more transparent.

“A young jockey should be able to go and complain if they are being bullied or feel intimidated.”

Barry Geraghty celebrates a big-race success at Cheltenham
Barry Geraghty celebrates a big-race success at Cheltenham (Simon Cooper/PA)

Barry Geraghty, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in his glittering career in the saddle, felt it was a “sad” day for racing.

He said: “My reaction is sad I suppose, there is no winner, obviously it’s tough for Bryony, tough for Robbie and tough for racing as well.

“You’d have to be in the enquiry itself to have a grasp of all the detail, but for me it’s not a reflection on the weighing room and the culture, that’s the bit that really gets me.”

Responding to claims from the BHA’s Louis Weston, who in his closing statement on Wednesday claimed that the culture in the weighing room was “rancid’, Geraghty said: “Not the weighing room I was in for 24 years and I’ve only been gone just over 18 months.

“There is nothing more precious to me than my children and if they decided to pursue a career as jockeys the racecourse would be the only place I would fear for them, not the weighing-room culture, fellow riders or valets.

“The weighing room I was in for 24 years was a happy place, it was good fun. We’d have clashes and differences of opinion, but I never witnessed bullying and if someone was getting a hard time from someone else, someone would generally step in and address the situation.

“It’s hard to hear these comments like ‘rancid’ because that is not the place I spent most of my life.

“I’d be all for new measures – if they are brought in – to stop this sort of thing happening again. You don’t want to see an incident like this again. If there is an issue people need to be able to address it.

“But I think it’s unfair to the people in the weighing room to be painted in this way.”

Alain Cawley had words of support for Robbie Dunne
Alain Cawley had words of support for Robbie Dunne (Richard Sellers/PA)

Alain Cawley believes his weighing-room colleague has been “hard done by”.

Speaking after riding at winner at Newcastle on Thursday, he told Sky Sports Racing: “I think Robbie has been hard done by, (being) found guilty of everything he has.

“I’ve been in the weighing room a long time and I’ve never heard anyone say (anything) but how good it was in there (for all the) young people coming along.

“Going back when all the older boys were there, especially when I was starting – it helped me out.

“For me the weighing room is a great place to be. I haven’t heard many people say that it wasn’t.

“I feel sorry for Robbie. Hopefully it’ll get looked into again – I don’t think it’s right.

“We’re all adults, or the majority of us are adults. We’ve all had tussles and bustles about people – how many married people go home and swear at each other and have rows every night of the week.

“Swearing is part of life and it’s a tough sport we’re in. We risk our lives when we go out there.

“Foul language is used everywhere. I’m not saying it’s right to use it in certain ways, but we’re grown people – men and women in there. We’re tough people to be out there in that game.

“It’s a tough sport, but it’s for everyone – whoever wants to come into the game, we’re open to everyone coming into the game.”

Emotional Frost cheered in victory by Warwick racegoers

An emotional Bryony Frost was boosted by the reception of racegoers at Warwick on Thursday after she won the opening race.

At around the same time the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority ruled she had been bullied and harassed by fellow rider Robbie Dunne, Frost was in competitive action aboard Graystone for trainer Lucy Wadham.

Having been placed on his first two jumping starts, the Dark Angel gelding was an 11-4 chance for the Agetur (UK) Ltd Juvenile Maiden Hurdle and produced a dominant front-running display.

Saint Riquier, the 13-8 favourite, attempted to close the gap from the home turn, but Graystone survived a final-flight error and proved seven lengths too strong, with Frost returning to the winner’s enclosure to warm applause from racegoers.

Speaking to Racing TV, Frost did not touch on events in London, but of Graystone she said: “We didn’t want to fight him today. He’s a young, teenage man with a lot of opinions, so I just let him to do his thing.

“Our jumping is coming – it’s not quite where we want it. At the last my heart was in my mouth, but luckily he got those front legs down and the landing gear was strong.

“He’s galloped very well to the line for a horse that’s quite keen and running a little bit on the free side – to be able to finish like that was really positive.”

Robbie Dunne bullied and harassed Bryony Frost, disciplinary panel rules

Jockey Robbie Dunne has been given an 18-month ban, with three months suspended, after being found in breach on all four counts of conduct prejudicial to horseracing after the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority ruled he had bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost.

Dunne was charged with seven breaches in total, four of conduct prejudicial to horseracing and three of violent and threatening behaviour, with all but one of those charges denied. The 36-year-old, who was not given a financial penalty, was told there were “a combination of factors” which meant his punishment was above the entry point.

Bryony Frost, in action at Warwick on Thursday
Bryony Frost, in action at Warwick on Thursday (Adam Davy/PA)

An independent three-person panel, chaired by Brian Barker QC, found the four prejudicial conduct breaches to have been proven, while the latter three are yet to be considered.

The majority of the incidents in question took place in 2020, when Dunne was found by the panel to have threatened Frost by promising to “put her through a wing (of a fence)” and he was also accused of using misogynistic language such as “f****** whore”, “f****** slut” and “dangerous c***” towards her.

Barker said: “Our conclusion on the whole of the evidence is that a course of deliberate conduct over a significant period of time has been revealed.

“This has progressed from distasteful targeting to deliberate harassment on and off the course and onwards to occasional cases of dangerous bullying.

“We find that the words used on September 3 were, as a promise, to cause real harm – over and above the usual jockey mantra of ‘murdering’.

“On the examination of Ms Frost’s evidence and demeanour we find her to be truthful, thoughtful and compelling.

“By taking her complaint to the authority she has broken the code (of the weighing room), knowing that her isolation – and rejection by some – was inevitable.”

British Horseracing Authority headquarters in London
British Horseracing Authority headquarters in London (John Stillwell/PA)

He went on: “In acknowledging after the Southwell race Mr Dunne believed that Ms Frost was the cause of his mount’s death and that he had suffered a fall, we are unable to accept Mr Dunne’s sweep of denials, criticisms and his reasons.

“A man who in the view of one of his own witnesses was “a p*** taker” and who regarded himself as one of the elders of the weighing room and someone who expected his view to be heeded.

“Behind the four elements set out in rule (J) 19 we find those proved.

“I’d like to make two further observations. The type of excessive language used towards Ms Frost was totally unacceptable, whatever the frustrations about her style and whatever the habits of the weighing room.

“Secondly, in reviewing the evidence given and their approach, by jockeys of repute, as well as by the valets – who probably find themselves in a difficult position – we have a real concern that what was referred to by Mr Weston as ‘the weighing-room culture’ is deep-rooted and coercive and that in itself is not conducive to the development of modern-day race-riding.”

Barker added: “In our view she (Frost) has supported (her case) in a number of areas. The first is the published comments on the Virtual Grand National, the second is the apology at Bangor, the third is the video of the encounter in the pull-up area at Stratford combined with the independent evidence of the fence attendant.

The culture inside weighing rooms has come under scrutiny
The culture inside weighing rooms has come under scrutiny (David Davies/PA)

“Also the acceptance of at least some offensive behaviour at Southwell which was followed by Ms Frost’s report to the BHA, and the evidence of Ms (Hannah) Welch (former amateur jockey), which we also found persuasive in admissible support.”

Addressing the leaked BHA report into the allegations and the suggestion that this may have prejudiced the hearing, Barker said: “It is an unfortunate fact that the preliminary process has been overshadowed by extraordinary and unprecedented leaks, either one leak or two leaks, of confidential information.

“In relation to that, the independent enquiry continues. The fact of that leak has led to both distress and unhelpful speculation.

“Fortunately in recent days most of those subsidiary matters have fallen away and as a result we now view that there has been a thorough public investigation and dissection of the core areas, which, looked at in totality, will be of great concern to many who love, support and enjoy the sport.”

In regards to the penalty imposed, which is effective immediately, with Dunne having seven days in which to lodge an appeal, Barker said: “We have taken our time to consider submissions that have been made, both from the BHA and from Mr Dunne. We will say this – professional athletes should behave in a professional way and I am afraid you haven’t.

“This was a deliberate targeting of a colleague whose vulnerabilities you exploited. Whatever your view of her style this was not the way to deal with it. Your behaviour was not appropriate in any sport.

“We have to consider both aggravating features and mitigating features. I view the aggravating features are that this was a deliberate course of conduct, in public, over a fairly long period, which had its desired effect.

“Your behaviour and language would not be tolerated in any other walk of life or workplace. Additionally, in the course of this hearing you have adopted an aggressive attack on her (Frost’s) personality in order to justify your actions. There has been little sign of understanding.

“Mitigation we have considered carefully, but we can’t, I’m afraid, give any credit to the limited plea that was made. We considered the leak, the leak would have had a negative impact on you and it was most unfortunate from every point of view. But nevertheless, the negative impact applied to everybody involved.

“We note that you were following a culture that seems to be approved of by your peers and we are particularly conscious that your livelihood will be significantly affected. We have taken particular notice to the medical report, we do understand your suffering at the loss of your best friend (Liam Treadwell).

“You meant to instil fear and humiliation and you succeeded. Your actions were not appropriate in an equal-terms sport, nor did they meet the expectations of acceptable behaviour.”

He added: “There are a combination of factors, in our view, that take this substantially above the entry point. We agree the appropriate approach is to give concurrent sentences, our view is overall that the appropriate sentence is one of 18 months suspension of licence. We did not consider a financial penalty to be appropriate.

“Taking into account a number of matters urged upon us, we do consider it is just to suspend three months of that term. You will understand the effect of this and the suspension will take place in the usual way.”

Bryony Frost had an emotional success at Warwick
Bryony Frost had an emotional success at Warwick (Adam Davy/PA)

Giving her reaction, Frost – who rode a winner at Warwick at almost the same time the verdict was announced – said in a statement she would “take a few days” for reflection before commenting further.

“I would like to thank every individual including the racing public that has supported me not only during the last couple of weeks but throughout,” she said.

“I wish now to take a few days to reflect on the outcome before I make any further comment. I ask the media to please give me and the people closest to me a few days of privacy. I need to focus on my upcoming rides over the weekend. Thank you.”

Robbie Dunne awaits verdict on allegations he bullied and harassed Bryony Frost

A verdict is expected by midday today as the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority prepares to rule on allegations jockey Robbie Dunne bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost.

Dunne denies all but one of the seven charges brought against him, although he disputes the language used in the admitted breach, and was present in High Holborn for five days as the hearing took place in front of a three-person panel.

The majority of the incidents in question were said to have taken place in 2020, when Dunne is alleged to have threatened Frost by promising to “put her through a wing (of a fence)” and is also accused of using misogynistic language such as “f****** whore”, “f****** slut” and “dangerous c***” towards her.

Bryony Frost with Greaneteen after victory in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday
Bryony Frost with Greaneteen after victory in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday (Steven Paston/PA)

In closing submissions on Wednesday, Roderick Moore, representing Dunne, told the panel he had issues with Frost’s credibility after the allegations made about Dunne’s misogynistic behaviour were not echoed unanimously by other female riders.

“I readily accept that Ms Frost was upset at times during her evidence to you last week, that was obvious,” he said.

“The panel needs to take considerable care when assessing her testimony and the weight that can be placed upon it, the fact that she was visibly upset does not mean that where she leads, the panel should necessarily follow.

“Ms Frost made a number of gender-based allegations. Those allegations were not supported in any meaningful sense by the six female jockeys who were interviewed by the BHA investigator.”

The panel also heard that Moore felt it would be unfair to judge Dunne independently to what is generally deemed acceptable in the weighing room at present.

“The way the weighing room is should not come as big news to anyone, there are BHA officials coming in and out all of the time,” he said.

“What would be grossly unfair is to make a judgement of Mr Dunne against a scenario that isn’t the real one.

“If something needs to change, that’s for the future, that’s a policy matter, a political matter.”

Robbie Dunne in action at Aintree on Saturday
Robbie Dunne in action at Aintree on Saturday (Tim Goode/PA)

Louis Weston, representing the BHA, took issue with the acceptance of a hostile weighing-room culture and highlighted Moore’s perceived attempts to prove that Frost was unduly sensitive to this environment.

“To point to her just being intolerant of nice Mr Dunne’s behaviour, that is a hopeless case and a very unfortunate one to put across. It isn’t acceptable,” he said.

“If what is being said, when you come to determine this case, there is a weighing room culture that allows jockeys to threaten serious injury to another or their horse, to call another a whore, a slut and a slag, then that culture is one that is sour, rancid and one that we say should be thrown out and discarded. Its time, if ever it had its time, has gone.

“It is breathtaking, properly breathtaking, to hear Mr Dunne’s friends speak of their tolerance of that conduct.

“It’s amazing that anyone in this sport is saying that it’s OK. You cannot have a sport that is open to men and women if it is tolerated that they get called a whore at work. It is so far beyond the pale, it doesn’t come down to a slight judgement, it is miles beyond the pale.”

Verdict due on Thursday as Robbie Dunne’s disciplinary hearing concludes

The British Horseracing Authority’s disciplinary hearing into allegations jockey Robbie Dunne bullied and harassed Bryony Frost has been adjourned, with a final decision expected by noon on Thursday.

Dunne denies all but one of the seven charges brought against him after allegations from fellow rider Frost, although he denies the language used in the admitted breach, and has been present in High Holborn for five days as the hearing took place in front of a three-person panel.

The majority of the incidents in question took place in 2020, when Dunne is alleged to have threatened Frost by promising to “put her through a wing” and is also accused of using misogynistic language such as “f****** whore”, “f****** slut” and “dangerous c***” towards her.

Roderick Moore, representing Dunne, told the panel he had issues with Frost’s credibility after the allegations made about Dunne’s misogynistic behaviour were not echoed unanimously by other female riders.

Dunne, who has been present in High Holborn throughout the hearing
Dunne, who has been present in High Holborn throughout the hearing (Nick Potts/PA)

“I readily accept that Ms Frost was upset at times during her evidence to you last week, that was obvious,” he said.

“The panel needs to take considerable care when assessing her testimony and the weight that can be placed upon it, the fact that she was visibly upset does not mean that where she leads, the panel should necessarily follow.

“Ms Frost made a number of gender-based allegations. Those allegations were not supported in any meaningful sense by the six female jockeys who were interviewed by the BHA investigator.”

Moore also challenged the idea that Frost had been afraid of Dunne, telling the panel: “It’s hard to reconcile her contended fear for Mr Dunne when she spends as much time as she does in the male area of the weighing room.

“Her retort to me was that she is in the male weighing room because she gets more rides than they (other female riders) do, and that one follows from the other.

Frost after her Tingle Creek success aboard Greaneteen
Frost after her Tingle Creek success aboard Greaneteen (Steven Paston/PA)

“Lucy Gardner helped you with this yesterday, where she said there is no need for female riders who don’t want to go into the male area to do so.”

The panel also heard that Moore felt it would be unfair to judge Dunne independently to what is generally deemed acceptable in the weighing room at present.

“The way the weighing room is should not come as big news to anyone, there are BHA officials coming in and out all of the time,” he said.

“What would be grossly unfair is to make a judgement of Mr Dunne against a scenario that isn’t the real one.

“If something needs to change, that’s for the future, that’s a policy matter, a political matter.”

Louis Weston, representing the BHA, took issue with the acceptance of a hostile weighing-room culture and highlighted Moore’s perceived attempts to prove that Frost was unduly sensitive to this environment.

Dunne (right) at Aintree on Saturday
Dunne (right) at Aintree on Saturday (Tim Goode/PA)

“To point to her just being intolerant of nice Mr Dunne’s behaviour, that is a hopeless case and a very unfortunate one to put across. It isn’t acceptable,” he said.

“If what is being said, when you come to determine this case, there is a weighing room culture that allows jockeys to threaten serious injury to another or their horse, to call another a whore, a slut and a slag, then that culture is one that is sour, rancid and one that we say should be thrown out and discarded. Its time, if ever it had its time, has gone.

“It is breathtaking, properly breathtaking, to hear Mr Dunne’s friends speak of their tolerance of that conduct.

“It’s amazing that anyone in this sport is saying that it’s OK. You cannot have a sport that is open to men and women if it is tolerated that they get called a whore at work. It is so far beyond the pale, it doesn’t come down to a slight judgement, it is miles beyond the pale.”

Weston described Dunne as “wholly unimpressive, obviously untruthful and at times plainly incoherent” and told the panel that in his view he had given “appalling evidence” when hinging his response on Frost’s riding style despite provocation being no defence for the breaches of which he is accused.

BHA headquarters in High Holborn
BHA headquarters in High Holborn (John Stillwell/PA)

“It is victim-blaming and he has done it quite expressly. He is running an argument throughout this case that his conduct is justified and even acceptable by some culture of the weighing room,” he said.

Weston also made reference to Frost’s initial reluctance to come forward with her allegations and the supposed hostility she has suffered since, something he stated she would not have subjected herself to if she were not telling the truth.

“What I ask you to do is to ask yourself, mentally, this question – why would Bryony Frost make these allegations and put herself through this if what she were saying were not true?,” he said.

“It’s very clear that Ms Frost knew that by stepping up and confronting Robbie Dunne as she did she would run the risk of going against the grain of her profession and being ostracised and excluded, and she has been. Jockeys not talking to her, valets saying they are not going to work for her any more. It’s outrageous that they behave in that way because she had the guts to stand up to a bully.

Frost at Hereford
Frost at Hereford (David Davies/PA)

“No one else was helping her, no one else was protecting her, she had nowhere else to go. She didn’t come to the BHA at a sprint, she needed encouragement and she needed time to think.

“She needed a lot of time to come to this case and I suspect she wouldn’t have done that if she was going to tell a pack of lies.”

At the conclusion of both parties’ statements the panel retired to consider their verdict.