Robbie Dunne rejected accusations that he bullied and was sexually inappropriate towards Bryony Frost, as his British Horseracing Authority disciplinary hearing continued on Tuesday.
Dunne, who denies all charges relating to prejudicial conduct and two of the three relating to violent and threatening behaviour, said no allegations of any wrongdoing had been made against him until September 8, 2020.
This was the day after he allegedly received a phone call from someone with a “West Country accent” in which the jockey said he was told his legs would be broken if he did not stop harassing Frost. Dunne claims those connected with the call had “gone too far” and the bullying accusations were then made.
However, Louis Weston, representing the BHA, said this could not be the case as Dunne’s alleged bullying of Frost had begun long before then, and he referenced a tweet Dunne sent ahead of the 2020 Virtual Grand National in which he appeared to single out Frost.
The tweet read: “If Yala Enki wins this cartoon race, wonder will the interview be as farfetched as they do be in the real race?”
While Dunne conceded the tweet was unprofessional, he denied it was an act of bullying.
Weston also highlighted races in which both Dunne and Frost rode, during which it was alleged there were instances of intimidating riding from Dunne. He was also accused of exposing himself to Frost in the changing rooms and using foul and abusive language to her, allegedly threatening to “put her through a wing”.
Dunne disagreed when it was put to him by Weston that fellow rider Gavin Sheehan had called him the “class clown” of the weighing room and a “p***-taker” and it was the fact Frost refused to back down to him that caused the initial ill feeling.
Weston said: “That is the reason you picked on her, isn’t it? Because she was brave enough to stand up to you.”
While Dunne did admit to being naked in front of Frost, he rejected the allegation she made last week that he “shook himself” in front of her.
When Dunne said: “It’s not against the law to shake yourself, is it?”, Weston replied: “I’m not joking, Mr Dunne.”
Responding to the evidence of a fence attendant at Stratford who on July 8, 2020 claimed to have heard Dunne call Frost a “f****** s**t”, Dunne said he may have misheard him say “keep f****** straight” as he believed Frost had cut across him in the race.
Dunne admitted telling Frost he would “put her through a wing” following a race at Southwell last year. This came after his mount, Cillian’s Well, suffered a fatal fall which he blamed on Frost and her mount Wisecracker jumping repeatedly to their left.
But the 36-year-old said it was a figure of speech, the likes of which is heard on a daily basis in the weighing room, and it did not mean he was going to physically harm her.
“I may have had a bit of road rage,” he said.
Describing Frost’s riding style in his statement, Dunne had said “she is very talented but on occasions she rides irresponsibly and when she does she causes risks and danger to other jockeys. That is not just my view, it is widely held by other jockeys.”
Fellow riders Tom Scudamore, Nico de Boinville, Ben Poste and Lucy Gardner, as well as former jockeys Richard Johnson and Lizzie Kelly, all gave evidence on Tuesday, along with master valet Chris Maude.
He told the panel he had been approached by Frost’s father, former jockey turned trainer Jimmy, to “bang their heads together and sort this out”, although Jimmy Frost denied in his statement the first part and recalled he asked Maude only to “sort it out”.
With the help of former champion jockey Johnson, Maude said he had planned a meeting at Kempton for Frost and Dunne to resolve their differences but Frost pulled out on the day.
Johnson, who appeared in person, said: “I didn’t speak to Jimmy or Bryony, Chris Maude did – I was just trying to help. The weighing room is a close-knit community.
“I knew about the Southwell race and I heard Robbie speak to her after the race, but incidents like that happen once or twice a day. He was having a go at her because he felt she caused his horse to fall. I can’t recall the words, but he was upset and felt her horse had jumped across his.”
Maude added that three valets who gave evidence at the hearing last week – Graham Piper, his nephew Lewis Piper and Mark Sinfield – had declined to work for Frost at Fontwell on Tuesday.
Scudamore, who appeared via Zoom, denied Frost’s claim of last week that the two had not spoken since news of the complaint had emerged.
“That is not the case,” said Scudamore. “I could show you text messages I sent to her after her fall in the Grand National, or as recently as when she won the Grade One in Ireland on Frodon.
“We haven’t been sharing lifts recently as we couldn’t because of Covid, but I’ll admit we haven’t been as friendly as previously.”
All evidence has now been heard and the panel will reconvene on Wednesday to hear the closing statements.
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