Talking Horses: Dunne lodges appeal against 18-month ban for bullying Frost

Robbie Dunne, who was banned from riding for 18 months in December after being found to have engaged in a campaign of bullying and harassment against fellow rider Bryony Frost, has lodged an appeal against both the finding and the penalty imposed in the case.

Dunne denied all but one of the charges against him at a hearing in front of a three-person panel last month, but was ultimately found to have engaged in “conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing” by subjecting Frost to a persistent campaign of physical, verbal and online bullying and intimidation over a seven-month period from February to September 2020.

The British Horseracing Authority brought a series of charges against Dunne after Frost lodged a formal complaint against him in September 2020. Its case included six alleged instances of bullying and harassment, including two during races at Leicester and Market Rasen, and a confrontation after a race at Southwell when Frost told the panel that Dunne “promised” to cause her physical harm by “putting [her] through the wing [of a fence]”.

“The independent judicial panel has received an appeal from the representatives of Robbie Dunne in relation to the finding and penalty imposed on him by the disciplinary panel after its recent hearing,” the BHA said in a statement. The independent judicial panel will now convene an appeal board for the hearing and liaise with representatives of all parties regarding a potential date for the hearing, which will be communicated in due course.”

Dunne initially had seven days from the publication of the panel’s written reasons for their finding on 6 January to lodge an appeal, but the 36-year-old rider was subsequently granted an extension until 20 January.

The £100,000 Sovereign Handicap Hurdle is the feature event on the first day of the inaugural Winter Million meeting at Lingfield on Friday and it has attracted a strong field including Metier, a Grade One winner as a novice, and three challengers from Ireland.

Metier has failed to add to his decisive victory in the Tolworth Hurdle in three subsequent starts, but he hinted at a return to something like that level when fourth in a valuable race at Ascot just before Christmas. Harry Fry’s runner also has form on heavy going, unlike Emmet Mullins’s Carrarea, a sole ride on the card for Irish champion Paul Townend.

Fellow raider Lucky Max (3.35), however, is a winner on deep ground and defied a 15lb hike in the weights to complete a hat-trick in a big field at Cork in December. The sixth and eighth horses home there were winners next time, he gets on really well with useful 3lb-claimer Jack Foley and Sean Doyle’s fast-improving six-year-old looks the pick of the prices at around 6-1.

Market Rasen 1.30: The market leaders Minella Buster and Le Grand Lion both put up improved performances last time. A strong pace seems certain here and that just tips the balance in favour of Ben Pauling’s six-year-old, who proved his stamina at Huntingdon last month.

Lingfield 1.50: Le Ligerien has never been the most consistent of performers but his debut win over fences at Chepstow a fortnight ago was backed up by a strong time so perhaps a wind op over the summer has done the trick.

Market Rasen 2.05: Angels Landing improved to finish within five lengths of a useful winner at Ludlow earlier this month and starts his handicapping career on a very fair mark.

Lingfield 2.25: If On The Blind Side runs to the form of his close second in a Grade Two in November, he will take all the beating but his last two outings have been well below par and Emitom, returning to hurdles after two tries over fences, may be the more reliable option.

Market Rasen 2.40: Mullenbeg was easy to back on her debut 11 days ago but she powered clear to win with any amount in hand and Milton Harris’s mare looks overpriced again at around 12-1.

Lingfield 3.00: Broken Halo improved from his chasing debut to win a handicap at Exeter in a decent time on New Year’s Day, and can take this step up in class in his stride.

Market Rasen 3.15: A 3lb rise in the weights is unlikely to stop Hunny Moon following up his course-and-distance win in November.

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