Bryony Frost says other female jockeys chose not to report abusive behaviour

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  • Bryony Frost
    British National Hunt Jockey
Bryony Frost says other female jockeys chose not to report abusive behaviour
Bryony Frost says other female jockeys chose not to report abusive behaviour

Bryony Frost wiped away tears as she described her "isolation" in the sport after accusing Robbie Dunne of bullying while other women jockeys felt under "pressure" to stay quiet.

Giving evidence at a disciplinary hearing into Dunne's alleged misogyny towards her, Frost claimed abusive behaviour stretched back at least four years. "I remember Robbie through my amateur career being inappropriate," the most successful British woman jump jockey said. "I remember him opening his towel up and shaking himself in front of us at one point, thinking it was funny."

During cross-examination by Dunne's lawyer Roderick Moore, Frost expressed distress that other women in the sport did not back up her claims. She claims to have seen fellow jockey Lucy Barry being "bent over a table" by Dunne — but Barry denies any such incident took place, Moore said.

After Moore asked her whether she accepted Barry "was giving an honest account", Frost replied: "I distinctly remember Mr Dunne bending Lucy over a table and pretending to do a certain act to her. She was laughing it off and people were finding it amusing. She was very close with a few of the male jockeys in the weighing room, and this was, for her, normal behaviour."

Frost was giving evidence after the British Horseracing Authority opened the hearing by accusing Dunne of presiding over a campaign of "misogynistic and hateful" attacks. Dunne accepts verbally attacking Frost for riding dangerously but he denies other charges. A feud escalated after Frost was upset by Dunne's conduct outside a sauna, which jockeys regularly use to meet racing weight guidelines.

During one later row at Southwell racecourse, Dunne is alleged to have told her he would "murder" her in return for her "murdering" him - a reference to dangerous riding. She alleges he "cantered up to me and said something on the lines of, ‘You’re a f---ing whore, you’re a dangerous c---’, and ‘If you ever f---ing murder [cut across] me like that again, I’ll murder you.’”

However, when pressed on a "pattern" of other women jockeys failing to corroborate her claims of Dunne's "inappropriate" behaviour, Frost, who at times dabbed tears away with a tissue, said she understood why they would want to protect themselves.

"To me, personally speaking, the isolation that I have found from speaking out, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone," she told the hearing. "I could be wrong, but you're asking me for my opinion and my opinion is that they all have licences. They have to walk into that weighing room every day and I feel that they are protecting themselves and rightly so.... to protect themselves and to stay neutral."

Frost talked about a “pressure” to remain silent in the sport due to friendships and jockeys working for the same trainers. In relation to another woman in the sport who denies seeing any wrongdoing by Dunne, Frost added: “She was probably scared if she spoke out honestly. She was probably trying to protect herself."

Frost went on to explain how she believed jockey weighing rooms needed modernising, with more women now coming into the sport. "When you come into the main room changing... the courses are very dated," she said. "There are now more female jockeys racing."

Saunas are being phased out at racecourses, but women generally have to be weighed close to men's changing areas. "When you go in there to get yourself weighed, or to get your silks, a lot of the males in there will keep their towels on," Frost explained. "I’ve never been in the sauna. They wouldn’t openly walk around naked.”

As an amateur jockey, Frost won the Foxhunter Chase at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, riding Pacha Du Polder. She turned professional later that year.

"I remember Robbie through my amateur career being inappropriate," Frost said. "I remember him opening his towel up and shaking himself in front of us, at one point thinking it was funny. And that's what I recall.

Frost was repeatedly asked how her treatment by Dunne was worse than it was from other jockeys after she explained how she was teased for her often expressive attitude to media interviews following races.

Moore asked her: "Another jockey [unnamed] calls you a ‘c---’ after a race. Senior rider but you’ve made it clear you don’t have a problem. He calls you a ‘c---’ but that’s fine. Other jockeys tease but that’s fine?"

Frost replied: “There is a difference because it’s frequent. No other jockey attacked me on social media. It was over a long period of time. It wasn’t a kneejerk reaction. That’s why I’m here.”

Frost had first alluded in public to the fall-out following her biggest win to date, on Frodon, in last year’s King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day by which time her complaint to the BHA was already being investigated.

The BHA said Dunne accepts that "there was that exchange between himself and Ms Frost" and "he accepts he threatened a fellow jockey" during the exchange in question. He suggests that in return for her riding into his path, he would do the same to her at a later race. "His factual case is that he said, 'I'll put you through' - and it's taken from his interview in our bundle - and 'I'll do it to you some day - that's the only way you're going to learn... If you get hurt, it's the only way you're gonna learn'."

Dunne faces a maximum ban of up to three years if found guilty and a fine of between £1,000 and £15,000. His fate rests in the hands of chair Brian Barker, a former appeal court judge, former judge James O’Mahony and Alison Royston, a former head of administration for the Premier League.

The hearing continues

Day 1: Bryony Frost suffered ‘sexually abusive language’ from Robbie Dunne, BHA panel hears

Bryony Frost faced a campaign of "misogynistic and hateful" attacks from a less successful jockey who threatened to "murder" her during a race, a disciplinary panel heard today.

Robbie Dunne - a self-appointed "enforcer" in racing - is also accused of intimidating Frost by appearing naked outside a sauna while boasting about his conquests with other women jockeys. Dunne accepts verbally attacking Frost for riding dangerously but he denies other charges and the British Horseracing Authority has accused him of "victim blaming".

"He believes that he is entitled....to become some enforcer," said BHA lawyer Louis Weston. On the first day of his bombshell disciplinary hearing, the BHA's legal team outlined the catalogue of claims brought by the most successful British woman jump jockey in racing. She alleges he "cantered up to me and said something on the lines of, ‘You’re a f---ing w----, you’re a dangerous c---’, and ‘If you ever f---ing murder [cut across] me like that again, I’ll murder you.’”

Weston detailed how a series of confrontations took place between Dunne and Frost, who would be left in tears, after he apparently took exception to her riding lines in 2020. The feud escalated after Frost was left upset by Dunne's conduct outside a sauna, which jockeys regularly use to meet racing weight guidelines. During one later row at Southwell racecourse, Dunne is alleged to have told her he would "murder" her in return for her "murdering" him - a reference to dangerous riding.

"It's clear and not controversial between the BHA and Mr Dunne that he has in his head that Ms Frost has on occasion cut him up or ridden across his horse as it comes to a fence in a way that he believes to be dangerous or careless... that he believes that he is entitled as a result of that to become some enforcer," Weston said.

"To make threats that he is going to do her serious harm, there is no defence whatsoever. No justification for calling someone a f------ w----, f------ s--- or dangerous c---. No excuse for it at all. No justification. The stewards are there to deal with it. But it's worse than that in the sense that, not only does he add to that misogynistic and hateful way, but he is saying to a fellow jockey, 'I will cause you serious injuries'."

Frost had first alluded in public to the fall-out following her biggest win to date, on Frodon, in last year’s King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day by which time her complaint to the BHA was already being investigated. The BHA said Dunne accepts that "there was that exchange between himself and Ms Frost" and "he accepts he threatened a fellow jockey" during the exchange in question. He suggests that in return for her riding into his path, he would do the same to her at a later race.

"His factual case is that he said, 'I'll put you through' - and it's taken from his interview in our bundle - and 'I'll do it to you some day - that's the only way you're going to learn... If you get hurt, it's the only way you're gonna learn'." Weston added: "What he seems to be saying is that he, as a jockey with his level of experience, he is in some sense entitled to make threats of injury to another as part of an educational process which suggests, Ms Frost, as a more successful jockey than him, needs his direction and guidance."

Outlining the case, Weston referred to "foul, sexually abusive language" used by Dunne, adding that there had been an incident of him being inappropriately naked after "he'd been in a sauna" and "made jokes comments about his potential relations with other jockeys". Frost is alleged to have said "that wasn't acceptable" before he "started to mock her and tease her in front of others", Weston added.

It had not been known before that Dunne accepted the Southwell charge. Such an offence carries a punishment of up to 21 days, but he could be banned for several years if found guilty of all charges. In a case which has major ramifications not just for the weighing room but the BHA itself, the charges relate to three specific race days last year: Stratford on July 8, Uttoxeter on August 17 and Southwell on September 3. It is now 14 months since Frost first lodged her complaint to the BHA, whose head of integrity assurance Chris Watts, the leader of the investigation, left the organisation suddenly three months ago.

Dunne, who sat through the hearing, faces a maximum ban of up to three years if found guilty and a fine of between £1,000 and £15,000 although he denies the charges against him. His fate rests in the hands of chair Brian Barker, a former appeal court judge, former judge James O’Mahony and Alison Royston, a former head of administration for the Premier League.

The case, beset by legal delays, continues on Wednesday with evidence from Frost.

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