Racing Debate: Fitzgerald questions weighing room culture

Mick Fitzgerald has questioned whether weighing room culture has caught up with modern society in the wake of the BHA hearing into Robbie Dunne for prejudicial conduct and violent and threatening behaviour.

Bryony Frost – who won yesterday’s Tingle Creek Chase on Greaneteen – gave testimony at a BHA hearing this week into seven individual charges brought against weighing room colleague Robbie Dunne for prejudicial conduct and violent and threatening behaviour.

Dunne denies all charges of prejudicial conduct and two of the three of violent and threatening behaviour, with the hearing recommencing on December 7.

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Matt Chapman highlights horseracing’s need to appear more professional after the BHA agreed to alter weighing room facilities and during the ongoing Robbie Dunne bullying case

The details of that case has led Sky Sports Racing expert and former jockey Mick Fitzgerald to question whether the weighing room culture has caught up with the ever-changing structure of modern society.

“We all know that times have changed and it is the shock that I got when I left the weighing room and you go into the wider society and what you perceive to be normal in the weighing room is not normal in the wider society,” he said on Sunday’s Racing Debate.

“It is a very different ball game and it is a very different culture that up until now is very self-policing but as we know, times change.

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Barrister Tom Seamer says the context of each sport needs to be considered as the verdict of Graham Gibbons and Freddy Tylicki’s court case is currently under consideration

“I just think about modern society – it is very different to society 20 years ago. The stuff that was acceptable 20 years ago is not acceptable now.

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“I can only talk about the weighing room since I was last in it and I retired in 2008 – how much has it changed since then?

“Getting towards the end, there was definitely a change. That culture of the gung-ho, the social aspect of the weighing room and going out at night – those days are gone now.

“It’s a lot more professional now. So times have changed in the weighing room but has the culture changed?”

Journalist Paul Hayward also admitted he was struck by the reception Frost received after helping champion trainer Paul Nicholls to a 12th Tingle Creek success at Sandown.

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Matt Chapman sets the scene on Racing Debate after a busy week on and off the racecourse

“I was very struck by it because as she came in under the chute back to the winner’s enclosure at Sandown, people were calling things out to her,” he said.

“Most strikingly of all, I noticed a group of young women applauding her and shouting ‘we support you’.

“There’s a sense that she is fighting this case alone and that the other jockeys have turned their back on her and she said very strikingly this week that the isolation I felt on speaking out, I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

“So she cut a slightly lone figure at Sandown but winning the Tingle Creek flipped that on its head.”

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