OPEN warfare broke out in the racing world on Thursday evening.
Emotions were running high on all sides as the Bryony Frost and Robbie Dunne bullying saga finally – and mercifully – reached its conclusion.
After the dust of the opening skirmishes had settled, the toll of the conflict became clear.
An 18-month ban for Dunne, the BHA and Professional Jockeys Association at loggerheads and the reputations of some high-profile racing figures in the gutter.
The sport has had to cope with plenty of negative headlines over the years, but you just have to wonder about the long-term effects of this case.
British jump jockeys are in full revolt – they feel Dunne has been screwed over and have pointed the finger of blame at the authorities and the media.
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There is no doubt that the BHA have handled things poorly – this should never have lingered for as long as it did and their communication throughout has been terrible.
In fairness, they have said that they will learn from the way they dealt with this case, one which was unprecedented.
But the PJA, who came out swinging with a couple of fiery and ultra-defensive statements, need to take a long, hard look at themselves.
In their initial press release after the verdict, they failed to acknowledge that Frost, who we must remember is one of their own, had been bullied.
They rejected the findings of an experienced, independent panel – chaired by a former Old Bailey judge – who sat through the thick-end of 20 hours of evidence.
They maintain that Frost “felt bullied”, but disagree that she was bullied. Then came an even more bizarre statement, “on behalf of female jockeys”.
We don’t know who, we don’t know how many – is it all female jockeys? If so, surely it must have had input from Frost?
I think it's safe to presume the answer is no, as the “female jockeys”, who chose to remain nameless, proceeded to chuck Frost under the bus.
It's ironic the PJA sympathised with the isolation felt by Bryony, but proceeded to isolate her yet further.
The female jockeys trod the same path as their male colleagues in slinging mud at the BHA and the press – but they are all failing to see the bigger picture.
And it's really quite simple – there is no place in the weighing room for the sort of disgraceful, misogynistic behaviour that Frost suffered, and their ‘us against the world’ attitude is not helping anyone.
The PJA’s statements, and their lack of support for Frost throughout, have been met with disbelief by most.
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Though there stance is hardly surprising given they lobbied to get the hearing chucked out, while there has been a relentless barrage of pro-Dunne sentiment from current and former jockeys.
We heard earlier in the week that the three valets who gave evidence at the hearing refused to work for Frost at Fontwell on Tuesday.
This childish act was astonishing enough, and then came a subtle-as-a-sledgehammer tweet from AP McCoy in which he talked of fond memories with his valet pals.
The 20-time champion jockey’s post was just one of a number of bad takes on social media.
One owner mused: “If ever it would be possible for Bryony to throw an olive branch and request the ban be overturned.
“In return I’d hope there would be a heartfelt apology from Robbie. I’m probably in dreamland but it’s in both their interests.”
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Dreamland is one word for it. Perhaps they could hold hands and skip off into the sunset after they've made up?
Another bright spark said: “Can’t the BHA drop the case and let Bryony and Robbie just accept they don’t get on and move on?"
Given that many of those who are born into racing have had the privilege of public schooling, it never ceases to amaze me that a lot of them are apparently a few cards short of a deck.
It mustn't be forgotten in the middle of this swirling s*** storm – with daggers being thrown from every direction – that Frost, who is the victim in all this, must feel more isolated than ever.
She has to go into the weighing room every day with the knowledge that her colleagues have it in for her and are dismissive of her ordeal.
The BHA are aiming to introduce a sweeping new code of conduct early next year which will outline standards that riders must adhere to.
This is not to say that every weighing room in the country is a toxic environment – far from it. I said last week and I will say it again, the majority of riders are good people.
But there is clearly a sinister, underlying atmosphere that deters some jockeys from speaking out if they feel they have been unfairly treated.
The message to the weighing room is loud and clear – whether or not they choose to listen is another matter.
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