ROBBIE DUNNE has been banned for 18 months – with three suspended – after being found guilty on all charges of bullying and harassing Bryony Frost.
The jockey, 36, was found to have subjected Sun Racing columnist Frost, 26, to seven months of ‘totally unacceptable’ weighing room hell by a disciplinary panel.
Brian Barker, panel chair, said: “We have real concern the weighing room culture is deep rooted and coercive and is not conducive to the good health and development of race-riding.”
In an amazing twist of fate, Dunne was found guilty just minutes after Frost rode a winner at Warwick – her only ride of the day.
A statement released by Frost said: “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 time 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.”
The closing arguments in the case which has gripped racing – and could have big ramifications for the sport’s culture going forward – were made yesterday.
British Horseracing Authority lawyer Louis Weston slammed the ‘rancid’ culture of the weighing room and said it was like a Carry On film.
Already, valets at Fontwell racecourse have refused to work for Frost and trainer Lucy Wadham referred that matter to the BHA.
Weston claimed Dunne, 36, had threatened to physically harm Frost and used ‘foul, sexually abusive and misogynistic language’ towards her.
On one occasion it was claimed Dunne threatened to ‘murder’ his rival – a racing term for cutting up another jockey mid-race.
Roderick Moore, acting for Dunne, said the BHA case was a ‘jigsaw puzzle with numerous missing pieces’.
Dunne had denied four charges of conduct prejudicial to horse racing, including bullying and harassing Frost.
He also denied two of the three counts of violent or improper behaviour.
But he did admit one breach at Southwell on September 3 2020, when he is alleged to have ‘promised’ to hurt her.
It was also alleged at an earlier part of the disciplinary hearing that Dunne removed his towel and ‘shook himself’ in front of Frost.
Dunne replied by saying being naked was not a sexual act.
But he was also alleged to have called Frost, a Cheltenham Festival and King George-winning jockey, a ‘f***ing sl*t’ at Stratford racecourse last year.
This version of events was supported by a racecourse worker, who described it as a ‘whoa’ moment.
All in all, the panel ruled Dunne had engaged in activity online, on the track itself and in the weighing room that was prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing.
The time period under investigation covered February to September last year.
Barker added: “We are unable to accept Mr Dunne’s sweep of denials, criticisms and his reasoning.
“A man, who in the view of one of his own witnesses was a ‘p**s taker’, and who regarded himself as one of the elders of the weighing room and someone who expected his view to be heeded.
“The tenor and type of language that we find was used towards Ms Frost is totally unacceptable, whatever the frustrations about her style and whatever the habits of the weighing room.
“They fall squarely within the ambit of the prohibition set out in the rule.
“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 real concern that what was referred to by Mr Weston as the ‘weighing room culture’ is deep-rooted and coercive, and in itself is not conducive to the good health and the development of of modern day race riding.”
However, speaking on Sky Sports Racing, legendary jockey Barry Geraghty defended what went on in the weighing room.
He said: “There is no winner, it’s tough for Bryony, Robbie and for racing.
“For me this is an incident between two people but its not a but it’s not a reflection on the weighing room and the culture and that’s the bit that gets to me.”
But commenting on the panel’s finding, top female trainer Gay Kelleway said: “It’s 40 years too late!
“This is what I had to suffer when I was riding, it’s taken quite a few decades to make it a clearer vision of what lady jockeys can go through.
“It’s not just Bryony, it’s a lot of lady jockeys who have kept quiet.
BRYONY’S SHOWN REAL GUTS
“One particular Flat jockey told me about her experiences but she was too frightened to say anything because they have this closed network in the weighing room.
“But at last there’s Bryony Frost, they’ve heard her and I’m 100 per cent with the verdict.
“Thank God she’s taken the guts and the courage to speak up.
“This is very apparent and has been going on for many, many decades. I suffered.
“We didn’t have a rule about no bullying or harassment in my day and thank God it’s made it clearer to see for the powers that be that we’ve got to have a look at the facilities women jockeys have and we must be on an even par.
“They must clearly look at what’s happened here.”