Jockey Robbie Dunne has been banned for 18 months – with three months suspended – after being found guilty by a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel of bullying and harassing fellow rider, Bryony Frost.
Panel chair Brian Barker said “a course of deliberate conduct over a significant time has been revealed”, including “distasteful targeting to deliberate harassment both on and off the course, including occasional cases of dangerous bullying”.
Speaking in regards to the penalty imposed – which is effective immediately – Mr Barker said: “You meant to instil fear and humiliation and you succeeded. Your actions were not appropriate in an equal-terms sport, nor did they meet the expectations of acceptable behaviour.”
He added: “There are a combination of factors, in our view, that take this substantially above the entry point. We agree the appropriate approach is to give concurrent sentences, our view is overall that the appropriate sentence is one of 18 months suspension of licence.
“We did not consider a financial penalty to be appropriate.”
“Taking into account a number of matters urged upon us, we do consider it is just to suspend three months of that term. You will understand the effect of this and the suspension will take place in the usual way.”
Frost is one of the UK’s most successful female jockeys and made a series of allegations against Dunne, accusing him of sexually inappropriate, misogynistic and bullying behaviour in a dispute that went back to 2017.
Dunne was accused of parading naked in front of her after getting out of a sauna at one racecourse.
“I remember him opening his towel up and shaking himself, thinking it was funny,” Frost said.
After the two jockeys had raced against each other at Stratford in July 2020, Dunne was alleged to have said to Frost: “You’re a f****** whore. You’re a dangerous c***. If you ever do that to me again, I’ll f****** murder you.”
In racing, “murder” can mean cutting up another rider during a race.
At the two-week long hearing at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in London, Dunne, 35, accepted that he had verbally abused Frost but rejected using such strong language.
He was found guilty of four charges of conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horse racing.
He said of another incident at Southwell Racecourse: “I may have had a bit of road rage.”
He was also accused of threatening to put her “through a wing (of a fence)” in future races.
When she gave evidence, 26-year-old Frost broke down in tears as she explained that the culture within racing makes it very hard to challenge bullying behaviour.
She said that she had been frozen out by some within the sport after making her allegations.
Three male weighing-room valets refused to work with Frost at Fontwell Park earlier this week after they gave evidence in the case.
The case has prompted a big debate within racing about how female jockeys are treated in the sport, the weighing room culture and the sub-standard facilities for male and female riders at some racecourses.