14 December 2021

Industry-wide group launched to address behavioural issues in racing

14 December 2021

British racing’s major stakeholders have joined forces in a bid to address problems of behaviour within the sport following the Robbie Dunne bullying case.

Dunne was last week found by the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority to have bullied and harassed fellow rider Bryony Frost, being banned for 18 months as a result, with three months suspended.

The BHA National Trainers Federation, Professional Jockeys Association, National Association of Racing Staff, Racehorse Owners Association, Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the Racecourse Association have united in a commitment to ensure “horseracing remains a progressive, modern industry when it comes to the conduct of our people”.

Robbie Dunne leaving the British Horseracing Authority’s headquarters in London last week (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

In a joint-statement, they said: “British racing is a diverse industry where individuals of varying identities and from a wide range of backgrounds work and compete side by side. It is a sport characterised by the shared values of camaraderie and conscientiousness which come hand in hand with working in an elite sport alongside equine athletes.

“It is essential that horseracing remains a progressive, modern industry when it comes to the conduct of our people. We must prioritise the well-being and development of our workforce, stand against discrimination of any kind in British racing, and invest in making racing a safe, fulfilling place to work.

“Great progress has already been made by the industry in terms of improving standards around training, education, employment practices, well-being, safeguarding and career development, with the entire sport involved in making racing a better place to work.

“However, there is always more that can and must be done. We must encourage a culture of openness and seek to support anyone who faces problems or has found themselves in difficulty. We must promote a culture of respect in how those involved in racing interact with one another and promote more diversity and inclusion at all levels of the industry.

“The signatories to this statement, therefore, today publicly commit to further improve standards, education and training around industry conduct, through the formation of a dedicated cross-industry working party.”  

Bryony Frost at Warwick racecourse (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

All the signatories have agreed to take part in a working party which will report into the industry People Board and will have the objectives of promoting the positive elements of conduct, educating participants, deter poor behaviour and any form of discrimination while calling out conduct which falls short of the joint expectations.

The group will be chaired by the BHA and include representatives from all the relevant bodies and the people that they represent. 

The working party will, as a priority, develop a specific action plan, which will be underpinned by research into the most effective examples of positive behaviour change from other industries.

It has amongst its objectives ensuring that the new code of conduct is properly communicated, explained and understood and that it achieves its objectives of raising standards of behaviour and conduct within the sport.

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