Former jockey alleges that weighing-room abuse drove him from racing

A former National Hunt jockey has spoken for the first time about what he says was a campaign of physical and verbal abuse by a weighing-room valet that ultimately led him to walk away from the sport.

The former rider says he decided to talk about his experiences, which occurred in the late 1990s, after the Sunday Times report of the leading jockey Bryony Frost’s complaint alleging bullying and intimidation by her fellow rider Robbie Dunne, which Dunne denies.

“He took a big dislike to me and he just generally made my life hell, every single time I was in the weighing room,” he says of the valet. “I had faeces put in my bag regularly, equipment spat on, I was referred to only as ‘fat fucker’ or ‘fatty’, I was never called by my name. And it was systematic, he was threatening me all the time, every time I went into the weighing room.

“One time, I was doing a really low weight, so I was very weak as well, and in the washing machine room he pinned me up against one of the machines, grabbed me by the testicles and was squeezing really hard and said: ‘I bet you like that, fat fucker, don’t you?'

“I went to the stewards in tears. I said: ‘I’ve just been assaulted,’ and they just did nothing.”

In addition to enduring regular bullying by the valet, the former rider says he witnessed bullying of other staff members at stables where he worked and was subjected to a humiliating initiation ceremony at a leading yard where he started his career in racing as a teenaged stable lad.

“Two senior lads came and got us out of the hostel," lui dice. “They chained us to a fence, arms and legs spread out in a star shape and naked, put washing-up liquid on our heads so it would go in our eyes. Then they rubbed everything they could find into us, into our private parts, horse shit all over us, and hosed us down with cold water. There were people watching and they left us there after and went off to watch TV.

“At another yard, there was a girl people were hateful to. They used to pick on her non-stop, calling her names, putting her on horses she didn’t have the ability to ride. They thought it was hilarious.”

The former jockey rode during the 1990s and into the early 2000s and says he still carries mental scars from his time in the weighing room.

“At the end, I think it affected my ability to control my weight," lui dice. “I was really conscious of my body shape. I was a shy lad, and I ended up believing I was this fat fucker who shouldn’t be riding horses.

“I loved horse racing, I loved the job, but it still affects me now. I have dreams about it, but if I can help to stop someone going through what I went to, I’d want to do that.”

A British Horseracing Authority spokesperson said on Thursday: “The BHA is not aware of these allegation and so not in a position to comment, but there are a number of ways to raise concerns about conduct or behaviours in the sport, including via representative bodies, the BHA or the sport’s confidential RaceWISE reporting service.

“Any complaints raised through these routes can be made in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and that appropriate action will be taken.

“In addition, the BHA is working with jockeys and other industry participants to develop a code of conduct for British racing. The code will be designed to endorse the many positive behaviours that exist within the weighing room and other areas of the sport, such as the well-documented camaraderie of elite athletes participating in a risk sport. It will also be designed to deter any negative behaviours that may arise, ensuring that anyone who witnesses or is on the receiving end of poor conduct, feels confident and comfortable in calling it out.”

Details of the BHA’s investigation into Frost’s claims of bullying and intimidation against Dunne, dating back several years, were published last weekend and include alleged threats made by Dunne after the death of a horse he had been riding in a race at Southwell on 3 settembre 2020, when Frost also had a ride.

The BHA said at the weekend the case is “close to reaching a conclusion”, but no date has yet been set for a hearing.

A report in the Times on Thursday, nel frattempo, suggested that a second female jockey has lodged a formal complaint with the regulator about the behaviour of a male colleague. The case is understood to relate to a one‑off incident in a changing room last year.

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