A former amateur rider who says that she was left in tears in a weighing room after fellow jockey Robbie Dunne accused her of “cutting him up” in a race told a disciplinary hearing in London on Thursday that Dunne’s account of the incident was “incredible” and that it had contributed to her decision to turn her back on racing.
Hannah Welch, who rode seven winners from 70 rides under rules before giving up race-riding in June 2020, was giving evidence at a hearing in which Dunne is charged with bullying and harassing his fellow rider Bryony Frost between February and September 2020.
She described the preliminaries and aftermath of a race in November 2018, when she said that Dunne first refused to allow her to line up on his inside and then swore at her and accused her of “cutting him up on the top bend” during the race after the riders had returned to the weighing room.
“Mr Dunne … stood very close in front of me and raised his voice and used swear words, I thought to intimidate me,” she said.
“This incident has played on my mind a lot since it happened. I was incredibly upset afterwards and it was a contributing factor to me giving up National Hunt racing, so it’s not something that’s easily forgotten.”
When told by Roderick Moore, representing Dunne, that Dunne’s witness statement will say he did not swear at Welch, she replied: “He was shouting and swearing, definitely swearing at me. I was crying and he did not stop.”
When told by Moore that Dunne “says he never saw you in tears”, Welch replied: “That is incredible.” The panel also heard on Thursday from Chris Watts, who led the British Horseracing Authority’s investigation of Frost’s complaint before resigning from his post as head of integrity assurance in September 2021.
Moore asked Watts about his relationship with Jimmy Frost, Bryony Frost’s father. He suggested that Watts had once claimed that Jimmy Frost was “a good friend” and that he had stayed in a converted double-decker bus which Frost rents out as a holiday home.
Watts said the claim was “absolutely ludicrous”, adding: “I can 150% assure you I have only been on one occasion and that was on 16 October 2020 [to take a statement from Frost]”. Watts also denied having failed to include statements from jockeys Tom Scudamore and Gavin Sheehan which were critical of Bryony Frost’s riding style in the final report into his investigation.
Moore told Watts that Scudamore subsequently told another BHA investigator that he has “issues with her riding”, and that he had “on occasion experienced difficulties with what I would describe as her lack of respect for other riders and her lack of spatial awareness when racing”.
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Watts insisted that his account of Scudamore’s responses was complete, saying: “That’s what he told me, he had the opportunity to say what he wanted to say when we had the conversation.” Sheehan, meanwhile, has subsequently told a BHA investigator that he told Watts he considered reporting Frost to the stewards at Southwell after a race in which she “forced herself into a space that wasn’t there”.
Asked by Moore if he believed he had “genuinely given [the riders] a full opportunity to open up to you with their views”, Watts replied: “Absolutely.”
The hearing will continue on Tuesday.