Robbie Dunne claimed on Tuesday that accusations he had conducted a campaign of bullying against fellow jockey Bryony Frost only surfaced after a telephone call he received threatening to break his legs.
The alleged call happened on September 7, 2020, four days after Dunne is claimed to have threatened to put Frost through the wing of a fence after blaming her riding for the fatal fall of his mount Cillian’s Well at Southwell.
Questioned on the fourth day of the BHA disciplinary hearing, Dunne said he believed the claims of bullying arose because those responsible for making the phone call realised they had ‘gone too far’. Under questioning from the BHA’s barrister Louis Weston, Dunne said: ‘The bullying (allegations) did not appear until after the phone call threatening to break my legs from a West Country accent which the police are dealing with.
‘Before that there was no suggestion I bullied anyone.’
Jockey Bryony Frost (left) with her dad Jimmy, who is also a trainer, at Newton Abbott
Asked why Frost’s trainer-father Jimmy had supported the bullying allegations made by his daughter, Dunne replied: ‘Because he had something to do with the phone call I received.’
However, Weston dismissed Dunne’s claim that he had not already been involved in bullying behaviour, citing a ‘mocking’ tweet which singled out Frost before the 2020 Virtual Grand National in April. Dunne conceded that the tweet was unprofessional but denied it was an act of bullying.
Dunne, 36, has already pleaded guilty to one charge, that he was verbally abusive and threatening towards a fellow jockey at Southwell.
He admitted that he had told Frost he would put her through the wing of a fence to teach her a lesson but said the phrase was a figure of speech regularly used in the weighing room rather than a threat.
Bryony Frost is alleged to have been targeted in the weighing room by Robbie Dunne (right)
Dunne rejected claims he had used abusive language towards Frost at the end of a race at Stratford on July 8 when he believed Frost had ridden across him. But he conceded he had been annoyed by the incident, adding: ‘The best way to describe it is a bit of road rage. I was angry. I confronted Miss Frost but I did apologise a few days later.’
The hearing heard evidence from four-time champion jockey Richard Johnson, who was part of a failed attempt to try to get Dunne and Frost to ‘clear the air’ at Kempton in February at the request, he said, of Frost’s father Jimmy.
Jockey Tom Scudamore denied that he had stopped communicating with Frost because of the allegations she had made, claiming he sent her text messages while the investigation had been going on.
Lucy Gardner confirmed that she had spoken to Frost about the Southwell incident on September 28 last year, but denied Frost’s claim that she had told her to give Dunne a ‘smack’. Gardner said: ‘That is not a phrase I would use in any way.’
Jockey Tom Scudamore denied that he had stopped communicating with Frost over the claims
On Frost’s suggestion that fellow female jockeys had been reluctant to support her because they feared it would be detrimental to their careers, Gardner added: ‘I feel that is not true. Talking to a lot of the girls, they and I do not feel that we have ever had any problem at any time with Mr Dunne.
‘He has always treated me with the utmost respect. I feel he treats me the same as he would treat anyone else.’
The hearing was told that three valets who gave evidence last week had refused to act for Frost at Fontwell yesterday because they were upset that their names had been in the media suggesting they condoned bullying.
The panel will retire to decide a verdict when the hearing concludes today.