Jockey Robbie Dunne saw himself upholding outdated sexist traditions in racing, he heard
The culture of the weigh room in National Hunt racing is stuck in the 1950s, where misogyny and intimidation reigned, and jockey Robbie Dunne saw himself as the upholder of those antiquated traditions, a disciplinary hearing has been told.
Dunne is accused of bullying, harassing and threatening his rival, a successful female jump jockey, Bryony Frost, during three races last year.
And in closing arguments before a panel of the British Horse Racing Authority, lawyers from both sides asked for a quarter and refused.
The heart of the matter is what Dunne said to Frost at meetings in Uttoxeter, Stratford and Southwell.
However, the racing culture, which prides itself on being a sport where men and women can compete on an equal footing, is also being tested.
Commissioned by the BHA, attorney Louis Weston described a weigh-room culture in which Dunne’s alleged lewd behavior, threats and sexual insults toward Frost were considered normal and acceptable.
Robbie Dunne, racing at Newbury in January, is accused of intimidating Bryony Frost
“It can’t be that Miss Frost is allowed to participate in a racetrack on a level playing field, only to find that when she comes back to the weigh room, Mr. Dunne will meet her,” Weston said.
‘[He is] he stars as the head of a patriarch who re-enacts the social attitudes of the 1950s in his capacity as a self-proclaimed upholder of traditions, seeing him placed in the weighing room. Just unacceptable… at a distance.’
The BHA claims the culture allowed Dunne to pursue a “vendetta” against Frost dating back to 2017, which eventually escalated into aggressive sexist abuse and threats to harm the female jockey by pushing her through a fence.
It is alleged that in the locker room, a space often shared by men and women on outdated racetracks, Dunne dropped his towel and “risked himself for Frost”, engaged in sexual acts and made sexually charged comments about “how he would giving jockeys a lift’.
Robbie Dunne (L) has been charged with verbally abusing and threatening Bryony Frost (R)
These claims were denied by Dunne and his lawyer during the week-long hearing, but Weston insisted: “It’s 1950s humor. Keep it up Up the Riding Clubs, let’s joke about women. Unacceptable.’
Jockey Robbie Dunne denies all but one charges brought against him by the British Horse Racing Authority.
The jockey is accused of violating two British Horseracing Authority rules regarding any event in Uttoxeter, Stratford and Southwell.
Under Rule J19, he is alleged to have engaged in “conduct harmful to” the sport by “bullying and harassing” a fellow jockey. He denies all three of these allegations.
Under Rule J20, it is alleged that he “acted violently or inappropriately” by abusing another rider. Dunne only accepts allegations related to Southwell.
If it is determined that Dunne has broken the rules, he could be fined and banned from participating.
The range of punishment for violating Rule 19, acting in a manner harmful to horse racing, is a fine between £1,000 and £15,000 and a ban from one month to three years.
For breaking Rule 20, by acting violently or inappropriately, the penalty is a ban for up to 21 days and a fine between £100 and £5,000.
The BHA says Dunne Frost mocked and bullied for a long period of time before the comments became more menacing last year.
Dunne, the hearing was told, believed Frost’s driving put him and others at risk and he needed to teach her how to behave.
At several races, Dunne would call his more successful rival a “f****** slug”, a dangerous “f****** whore” and a “dangerous bastard” when he took the younger rider. to task. It’s language Dunne denies using.
On July 8 in Stratford it is claimed that Dunne felt he had been cut on the track by Frost – an act described as ‘murder’ in National Hunt racing.
When the riders stopped after the race, Dunne is said to have said to Frost, “You’re a fucking whore…and if you ever kill me like that again, I’ll kill you.”
However, the feud came to a head on September 3rd last year at Southwell when Dunne’s mount, Cillian’s Well, fell and died in the race, holding the male jockey Frost responsible.
In the weigh room, Dunne told Frost what he thought of her driving and said he’d “get her through a wing” [fence]’.
In her evidence, Frost said that Dunne coolly threatened her and that she thought he intended to hurt her.
“He promised he would hurt me and I believed him,” she said. “He said it to me in such a way that I believed him.”
Dunne accepts that he used the phrase “push you through a wing” but as a rebuke, not a threat, and he never “promised” to hurt Frost.
The suitcase has split jockeys in jumping races. A number of female riders claimed they didn’t recognize Frost’s descriptions of weigh room culture and male jockeys lined up to say they heard nothing out of the ordinary in what Dunne said to Frost at Southwell given the circumstances.
But Weston praised Frost for breaking ranks and standing up to Dunne and the sport’s closed culture.
A BHA report contained claims by Frost that the bad feeling between her and Dunne dates back to before 2017
How the saga unfolded
September 2020: Bryony Frost sues the BHA over her alleged treatment by Robbie Dunne.
December 26: Frost talks negativity in the weighing room after her King George VI Chase wins over Frodon.
January 12, 2021: Details emerge of an angry exchange between Frost and Dunne after his mount Cillian’s Well was killed in Southwell on September 3.
January 24: Racemail reveals Frost’s concerns about her treatment date back to June 2019, when she was involved in a verbal incident with trainer Johnny Farrelly at Uttoxeter.
April: BHA head of integrity Chris Watts completes his 120-page report on Frost’s allegations, telling Dunne he will be charged.
October 17: Watts’ leaked report appears in a Sunday newspaper. It details Frost’s statement alleging issues with Dunne up to 2017 and threats he allegedly made against her. Dunne’s legal team accuses the BHA of losing control of the investigation.
November 24: Dunne is charged with bullying and harassing a fellow jockey on three days of racing in 2020.
“It is very clear that Miss Frost knew that if she stood up and confronted Robbie Dunne as she did, she would risk being banned and disfellowshipped against the nature of her profession, and she was.
Frost is Britain’s most successful female jump jockey
“Jockeys who don’t talk to her and servants who say they won’t work for her anymore. It’s outrageous that they behave this way because she had the audacity to stand up to a bully. I reject it in the strongest terms.
“She knew it was coming, but she was still willing to stick her head above the parapet. She wouldn’t have done any of that to chase a concoction she’d made up against Robbie Dunne. She did it because she’d had enough of him behaving for a while and no one else was helping or protecting her.’
In defending Dunne, his attorney, Roderick Moore, not only disputed the facts of what was said at Stratford, Uttoxeter and Southwell, but also made a passionate defense of the weigh room and the racing itself.
“If you and your colleagues arrive at the right answer, understanding the weighing space is essential,” Moore told BHA’s disciplinary panel, chaired by Brian Barker, QC.
Jockey Tom Scudamore found nothing unusual he heard between Dunne and Frost
‘It is a dangerous sport; they should tell each other if they think there is danger, even if it is the way one of their colleagues drives.’
Moore said there is sometimes talk of “crass and profane language.”
“What would be wildly unfair would be to pass judgment on Mr Dunne against a scenario that is not the real thing, but simply one that the BHA is pursuing. [to], or thinks a better one would be,” Moore insisted. “I’m not saying improvements are needed. I’m not saying there’s a problem.’
Moore highlighted witnesses, male and female jockeys, who claimed that the weighing area does not need to change.
The lawyer said if so, ‘it’s for the future, it’s a policy issue’.
“You can’t fairly judge Mr. Dunne against anything other than the current weight room,” said Moore, referring to the support of prominent jockeys, who said the phrase ‘I’ll stab you by a wing’ is a common expression in show jumping races. .
“It was a reprimand, it wasn’t a threat,” Moore said. ‘[Dunne] has enormous evidential value, because that is how it was also seen by [jockeys, Tom] Scudamore, Nico de Boinville, Paul O’Brien, Richard Johnson, the servants and so on.’
Frost, pictured earlier this month at a race at Hereford, was said to have been moved to tears in the weigh room
Moore questioned the credibility of Frost’s evidence, drawing attention to female jockeys who gave a “different flavor” to the weigh room, which Dunne also described as “supportive and respectful.”
And he said it was difficult to reconcile Frost’s perceived fear of Dunne, given that “she spends as much time as she does in the men’s section of the weigh room,” which he said was unnecessary because other witnesses had said that servants (who carry a rider help prepare for a race) will go to them.
Concluding his speech, Moore claimed Frost had overreacted to Dunne’s comments.
“Mrs. Frost didn’t take criticism well,” he said, pointing to incidents where she had reacted emotionally in other situations.
“We say that comes into the mix when you consider her reaction to Mr. Dunne, as he would say ‘call her out’ after Southwell’s fall.”
The independent BHA panel will rule in the case on Thursday.