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- British National Hunt Jockey
Bryony Frost, Britain’s most successful female jump jockey, told a disciplinary panel on Wednesday that her fellow rider Robbie Dunne subjected her to deliberate verbal and physical abuse which included an incident in which he “opened his towel and shook himself” in front of her, and eventually came to a head after a race at Southwell in September 2020. “At Southwell, when he said he was going to hurt me,” Frost said, “that was when I believed him.”
Frost was giving evidence on the second day of a disciplinary hearing in which Dunne is charged with bullying and harassing her between February and September 2020. While the incident in which she said Dunne exposed himself predates the period of the charges, Frost spoke about it for the first time under cross-examination by Roderick Moore, Dunne’s solicitor.
When Moore suggested to Frost that another incident in the male changing room several years ago, which Dunne admits, was the only occasion on which he had been naked in her presence, Frost said: “I remember Robbie through my amateur career being inappropriate to many of us and I remember him opening his towel up and shaking himself in front of me at one point, thinking it was funny, that’s what I recall.”
Asked by Moore whether it would be usual to see male jockeys naked in the weighing room, she said: “No, when you have to go in there, to get your weights and silks, a lot of the males would keep their towels around them. They wouldn’t openly walk around naked.”
Later in her evidence, Frost described an incident in the weighing room after a race at Southwell in September 2020 which convinced her to lodge a formal complaint of bullying and harassment with the British Horseracing Authority.
Frost contrasted the incident with an angry exchange immediately after a race at Stratford in July 2020 when Dunne had been “very aggressive” and shouted and sworn at her, saying that on the latter occasion, “he wasn’t angry, he wasn’t red-faced, he wanted me to know exactly what he felt about me and what he wanted to do”.
Dunne, Frost said, “promised that he was going to hurt me, that he was going to put me through a wing [of a fence]”. Frost said: “No one’s ever said [before] they were going to hurt me, it was the promise that made me believe that he wanted to, 100%.
“When someone says something like that to you, that’s what you believe, because why else would they say it? In my opinion, that’s not right, it’s not what you should tell somebody.”
Earlier in her evidence, Frost told the hearing that Dunne’s behaviour towards her was very different to what Moore described as occasional “teasing” by other riders.
“He is more aggressive, more direct, it wasn’t just the odd occasion he would take the mickey,” Frost said. “Say one other male jockey on a rare occasion would say something and then it’s fine and you get along, whereas Robbie, he’d take the mickey and also be aggressive and singling you out. It became more directed at me and affected me much more.”
Frost also suggested that she had felt “isolated” from the rest of the weighing room after she lodged her complaint against Dunne. In one of several emotional moments during her evidence, she was asked why several other female riders who were interviewed during the investigation had offered different recollections of Dunne’s behaviour.
“They have different recollections, they have licences as well,” Frost said, “so will always have to be within the weighing room. To me, personally speaking, the isolation I felt on speaking out, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
Frost said that one rider, Lucy Gardner, had spoken to her last year. “She said that I was doing the wrong thing by going to the BHA,” Frost said. “I said: ‘What do you think I should have done then?’ She said: ‘You could have smacked him.’ I said: ‘Why? Where would that get me?’”
The hearing will continue on Thursday.
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