National Hunt racing’s weighing room culture is stuck in 1950s misogyny, intimidation, and jockey Robbie Dunne viewed himself as the enforcer. A disciplinary hearing was held.

Dunne has been charged with intimidating, harassing, and threatening Bryony Frost, a highly successful female jump jockey at three races last season.

The barristers on both sides requested and refused quarter in the closing arguments to a British Horse Racing Authority panel.

What Dunne said to Frost during meets held at Uttoxeter Stratford and Southwell is the core of the case.

But, there are still many challenges to the racing culture, which is proud of its ability for men and women alike to race on equal terms.

Acting for the BHA, barrister Louis Weston, described a weighing room culture in which Dunne’s alleged lewd behaviour, threats and sexual slurs towards Frost were considered normal and acceptable.

Robbie Dunne, racing at Newbury in January, is accused of intimidating Bryony Frost

Robbie Dunne was allegedly intimidating Bryony Frost while she raced at Newbury, January.

‘It cannot be that Miss Frost should be allowed to compete on a race course on a level playing field only to find that when she comes back to the weighing room she is met by Mr Dunne,’ said Weston.

‘[He is]As a patriarch, he plays the role of the leader and enforcer of traditional values. He perceives that he is being put into place in the weighing area. Just unacceptable… by some distance.’

The BHA claims that the culture allowed Dunne to pursue a ‘vendetta’ against Frost dating back to 2017, which eventually escalated into aggressive sexist abuse and threats to harm the female jockey by putting her through a fence.

It is claimed that in the changing room, a space which is often shared by men and women at antiquated race courses, Dunne dropped his towel and ‘waggled himself in front’ of Frost, feigned sex acts and would make sexually charged remarks about ‘how he would give women jockeys a ride’.

Dunne (pictured) has been charged with verbally abusing and threatening Bryony Frost

Frost claimed that she was bullied and harassed by her fellow jockey

Robbie Dunne (L), has been accused of verbally abusing, and threatening Bryony Frost (R). 

These claims were denied by Dunne and his barrister during the course of the week-long hearing, but Weston insisted: ‘It is 1950s humour. Carry on Up the Riding Clubs type thing, let’s make jokes about women. Unacceptable.’


Robbie Dunne, Jockey, denies every one of six accusations made against him by British Horse Racing Authority.

According to the British Horseracing Authority, the jockey was accused of violating rules relating to Uttoxeter’s, Stratford’s and Southwell events.

Under rule J19 it is alleged he displayed ‘conduct prejudicial to’ the sport by ‘bullying and harassing’ a fellow jockey. These charges were denied by the jockey.

Under rule J20 it is claimed he was ‘acting in a violent or improper manner’ by abusing another rider. Southwell-related allegations are not accepted by Dunne.

Dunne could be subject to a penalty and/or a suspension from competition if he is found guilty of violating the rules.

The range of punishment for breaking Rule 19, acting in a way that is prejudicial to horse racing, is a fine of between £1,000 and £15,000 and a ban from one month to three years.

For breaching Rule 20, by acting in a violent of improper manner, the punishment is a ban up to 21 days and a fine of between £100 and £5,000.

BHA claims that Dunne mocked Frost and bullied him for years before last year’s threats escalated.

Dunne, the hearing was told, had formed the view that Frost’s riding endangered him and others and he needed to teach her how to behave.

At various races it is alleged Dunne called his more successful rival a ‘f****** slag’, dangerous ‘f****** whore’ and a ‘dangerous c***’ as he took the younger rider to task. Dunne refutes the use of this language.

At Stratford on July 8, it is claimed Dunne felt he had been cut up on the course by Frost – an act described as ‘murder’ in National Hunt racing.

As the riders pulled up after the race, it is alleged Dunne told Frost: ‘You’re a fucking whore … and if you ever fucking murder me like that again, I’ll murder you.’

However, the feud came to a head on September 3 last year at Southwell when Dunne’s mount, Cillian’s Well, fell and died in the race and the male jockey held Frost responsible.

In the weighing room, Dunne told Frost what he thought of her riding and said he would ‘put her through a wing [fence]’.

Frost stated that Dunne threatened Frost with a cool threat and that he believed he meant to hurt her.

‘He promised he would hurt me and I believed him,’ she said. ‘He said it to me in such a way I believed him.’

Dunne accepts he used the phrase ‘put you through a wing’ but as a rebuke, not a threat, and he never ‘promised’ to hurt Frost.

Jump racing jockeys have been split by the case. A number of female riders claimed they did not recognise Frost’s descriptions of the weighing room culture and male jockeys lined up to say they heard nothing out of the ordinary in what Dunne said to Frost at Southwell given the circumstances.

Weston was proud of Frost’s bravery in standing up against Dunne, the sports closed-culture and he also praised Frost.

A BHA  report included claims from Frost that ill-feeling between her and Dunne stretched back to before 2017

A BHA  report included claims from Frost that ill-feeling between her and Dunne stretched back to before 2017

What a story! 

September 2020: Bryony Frost complains to BHA over her treatment by Robbie Dunne.

December 26, 2012: Frost discusses negativity in the weigh room following her win on Frodon with King George VI Chase.

February 12, 2021: After his mount Cillian’s Well was killed at Southwell in September, details emerge about an angry altercation between Frost and Dunne.

January 24, 2019, Racemail: Frost has concerns about her treatment since June 2019, when Frost got into a verbal dispute with Johnny Farrelly at Uttoxeter.

April: Chris Watts (BHA Head of Integrity) completes the 120-page investigation into Frost’s allegations. Dunne has been informed that he will face criminal charges.

October 17th: Watts’ leaked document appears in a Sunday paper. Frost’s testimony is detailed with accusations of Dunne having problems in the past and threats that he made against her. Dunne and his legal team claim that the BHA has lost control of the investigation.

November 24, 2019: Dunne faces charges of bullying and harassing another jockey at three 2020 race days. 

‘It is very clear that Miss Frost knew that stepping up and confronting Robbie Dunne as she did, she would run the risk against the grain of her profession being ostracised and excluded and she has been.

Frost is the most successful British female jump jockey

Frost is Britain’s most popular female jump jockey

‘Jockeys not talking to her and valets saying they will not work for her any more. Because she was brave enough to confront a bully, it is shocking that they act in this way. This is something that I absolutely detest.

‘She knew it was coming yet was still was prepared to put her head above the parapet. To pursue a lie she made against Robbie Dunne, she wouldn’t have done that. She has done it because she has had enough of how he had been behaving for a period of time and no one else was helping her or protecting her.’

However, in defending Dunne, his barrister, Roderick Moore, not only challenged the facts of what was said at Stratford, Uttoxeter and Southwell, but mounted a passionate defence of the weighing roomand racing,  itself.

‘If you and your colleagues are going to get to the right answer it is essential to understand the weighing room,’ Moore told the BHA disciplinary panel, chaired by Brian Barker QC.

Jockey Tom Scudamore did not consider anything he heard between Dunne and Frost to be out of the ordinary

Jockey Tom Scudamore said nothing about Frost and Dunne that he thought was unusual.

‘It is a dangerous sport; they have to tell each other if they think there is a danger including if it is the way one of their colleagues is riding.’

Moore said that sometimes involves ‘coarse and profane language’.

‘What would be grossly unfair would be to make judgements about Mr Dunne against a scenario that is not the real one but simply one the BHA aspires [to], or thinks would be a better one,’ insisted Moore. ‘I am not saying improvements need to be made. I am not saying there is a problem.’

Moore cited witnesses (male and female jockeys) who stated that there is no need for the weighing area to be changed.

The barrister said if that if it does, ‘it is for the future, it is a policy matter’.

‘You cannot fairly judge Mr Dunne against anything other than the present weighing room,’ said Moore, who referred to the support of prominent jockeys, who said the expression ‘I’ll put you through a wing’ is a common phrase in jump racing.

‘It was a rebuke, it was not a threat,’ said Moore. ‘[Dunne]Has massive evidence support as that’s how it was seen. [jockeys, Tom] Scudamore, Nico de Boinville, Paul O’Brien, Richard Johnson, the valets and so on.’

Frost, pictured racing at Hereford earlier this month, was reduced to tears in weighing room, it is claimed

Frost was pictured at Hereford racing earlier in the month. It is said that Frost was reduced to tears during weighing room.

Moore questioned the credibility of Frost’s evidence, drawing attention to female jockeys who gave a ‘different flavour’ of the weighing room, who also described Dunne as ‘supportive and respectful’.

And he said it was difficult to reconcile Frost’s alleged fear of Dunne given ‘she spends as much time as she does in the male area of the weighing room’, which he said was unnecessary because other witnesses had said valets (who help a rider prepare for a race) will go to them.

In closing his argument, Moore claimed Frost had overreacted to Dunne’s comments.

‘Ms Frost did not take well to criticism,’ he said, highlighting incidents where she had reacted emotionally in other situations.

‘We say that goes into the mix when you consider her reaction to Mr Dunne as he would say ‘calling her out’ after the Southwell fall.’

The case will be decided by the independent BHA panel on Thursday