A High Court judge on Friday granted the Jockey Club an injunction to prevent animal rights protesters causing Grand National-type disruption at next week’s Betfred Derby meeting.

After causing a delay to the Grand National in April when hundreds tried to get onto the course, Animal Rising has made the Derby their next target. The activists have encouraged supporters to head to Epsom next Saturday with the aim of staging a demonstration on the track.

The Jockey Club, which owns Epsom as well as Aintree, took legal action arguing that a disruptive protest threatened to “compromise the safety of equine and human participants and all racegoers”.

High Court judge Sir Anthony Mann issued an order which prohibits individuals from entering onto the racetrack and carrying out other acts with the intention and/or effect of disrupting the races.

These include “intentionally causing objects to enter the racetrack, entering the parade ring, entering and/or remaining on the horses’ route to the parade ring and to the racetrack without authorisation, and intentionally endangering any person at Epsom Downs” on June 2 and 3, according to the Jockey Club.

Anyone in breach of the court order could be subject to proceedings for contempt of court, which may lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.

The Jockey Club said the injunction would still allow the right to express views in a peaceful and law-abiding way with the track having offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance of the racecourse specifically for this purpose on Derby Day.

Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale said: “Our number one priority will always be to ensure that the safety of all our equine and human participants and racegoers, officials and our own employees is not compromised.

“Animal Rising have repeatedly made it explicitly clear that they intend to break the law and disrupt The Derby Festival and that left us with no choice but to seek this injunction, having consulted with a number of stakeholders including Surrey Police.

“We will never tolerate a repeat of the illegal disruption we saw at Aintree on Grand National Day and we welcome today’s High Court ruling, which provides us with an additional layer of security to combat the threat of such dangerous and reckless behaviour.

“We believe everyone should have the right to peaceful protest and have offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance of Epsom Downs Racecourse to express their views in a law-abiding way. However, anyone who attempts to disrupt the race or compromise the safety of horses or humans will be dealt with robustly by our security teams and the police.

“As such I now urge Animal Rising to abandon any plans to breach security at The Derby Festival and respect the legitimate right of the thousands of people who will join us at Epsom Downs and the millions of people watching at home and around the world to enjoy the sport they love uninterrupted.”

2023-05-26T16:52:45Z dg43tfdfdgfd