Robbie Dunne admits to acting in ‘violent manner’ towards Bryony Frost
The National Hunt jockey Robbie Dunne targeted his fellow rider Bryony Frost in a campaign of bullying and harassment which included “foul, sexually abusive and misogynistic language”, threats to “cause her serious physical harm … by injuring her at the races” and riding with undue aggression during races in 2020, the British Horseracing Authority’s independent disciplinary panel heard on Tuesday.
Dunne admitted a single breach of the rules of racing in his conduct towards Frost as a disciplinary hearing into the case opened on Tuesday in London, conceding that he had acted “in a violent or improper manner” towards Frost after a race at Southwell in September 2020, in which his mount, Cillian’s Well, suffered a fatal injury.
He denies the charge of “bullying and harassing” Frost between 13 February and 3 September, as well as specific charges relating to the contest at Southwell and two more races, at Market Rasen in July and Uttoxeter the following month.
Outlining the BHA’s case against Dunne, the barrister Louis Weston told the three-member panel that while the charges cover events in 2020, the two riders had “fallen out” as early as 2017, when Dunne “displayed his naked self” to Frost in a changing room “in a way that was unacceptable and obviously so”.
Subsequently, Weston said, when Dunne “made jokes and comments about his sexual relations with other women jockeys”, Frost “stood up to him and said it was not acceptable … [and] they fell out as a result of it”.
Other alleged incidents, including “mocking comments in passing” as Frost was interviewed after a big win at Cheltenham in March 2019, “set the background” to Dunne’s bullying according to Weston, but “things took a turn in February 2020”.
Weston said that riding Lickpenny Larry in a race at Leicester on 13 February, Dunne had been “deliberately intimidating” to Frost, and “also in conversation on that occasion called her a fucking slag and a dangerous fucking whore”. This language, he said, “is plainly offensive, plainly misogynistic and if tolerated by a sport’s regulator, bringing it into disrepute”. Weston detailed a claim of further obscene abuse on 8 July at Stratford, when Dunne could be seen “speaking loudly” to Frost as the two riders pulled up their mounts after a race.
“What he said to her were words to this effect: ‘You’re a fucking whore … and if you ever fucking murder me like that again, I’ll murder you.’” Weston added that “murder in this context” means “cut up or cut across”, and that a bystander who overheard the exchange is expected to give evidence to the hearing on Wednesday.
On 29 July 2020, at Market Rasen, Dunne is alleged to have ridden his horse Buyer Beware “in such a way that he is pushing [Frost, on Wisecracker] and “making her move her horse”, at a time in the race when there was “absolutely no need” to do so. At Uttoxeter shortly afterwards, meanwhile, Weston said that while the two riders were circling before a race, Dunne told Frost: “I’m going to stop you murdering everyone, I’m going to murder you.”
What finally prompted Frost to lodge a formal complaint against Dunne, Weston said, was the rider’s conduct after the race at Southwell in September 2020 in which his mount was killed.
Dunne confronted Frost in the weighing room and “angrily” said: “The next time I ride against you, I promise I will put you through a wing [of a fence].” This, Weston explained, “is a particularly dangerous thing” for a jockey because they “not only come off their horse but make contact with a physical object that can cause them serious harm. He was threatening to do her a very serious injury.”
Dunne, he continued, “had it in his head” that Frost had “cut him up or ridden across his horse”, and believed that as a result “he is entitled to become some kind of enforcer or make threats to do her serious harm”.
However, he said, “there is no excuse or justification for it, none at all … and not only does act in that misogynistic and hateful way, he is saying to a fellow jockey: ‘I will cause you serious injuries.’” Frost is expected to give evidence to the hearing when it continues on Wednesday.