Epsom applies for injunction to prevent Derby disruption

The Jockey Club, which runs Epsom Downs racecourse, has applied for a High Court injunction in an effort to prevent “illegal and reckless protests” at this year’s Derby Festival.

Officials at Epsom have been on high alert for possible protests, promising “robust security measures”, after last month’s Grand National was targeted by animal rights group Animal Rising.

The race at Aintree was delayed by over 10 minutes as people made their way onto the track, while others were stopped by security and police by the perimeter fence.

In a statement on Monday, The Jockey Club said it had been forced to take the decision because protesters from Animal Rising continue to make it “explicitly clear” that they intend to breach security at the Surrey track.

The Jockey Club said an injunction “would in no way threaten the right of anyone to protest in a peaceful and law-abiding way” and has offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance of the racecourse to gather on Derby day on Saturday, June 3.

A protester, wearing a pink t-shirt of the Animal Rising group, is stopped by police at Aintree
Image: A protester, wearing a pink t-shirt of the Animal Rising group, is stopped by police at Aintree

Nevin Truesdale, chief executive of The Jockey Club, said: “In planning for The Derby Festival our number one priority will always be to ensure that the safety of all our equine and human participants and the thousands of racegoers who join us at Epsom Downs is not compromised.

“We respect everyone’s right to peaceful and lawful protest and with that in mind have offered Animal Rising a space for this purpose directly outside the racecourse during The Derby Festival.

“However, Animal Rising have made it explicitly clear that they intend to breach security and access the track itself in an attempt to stop racing taking place and it is our duty and obligation to do everything we can to protect everyone’s safety and prevent a repeat of the illegal and reckless protests we saw at Aintree in April.

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“As such the decision to apply for an injunction is a course of action we have been forced to take and is the result of careful consideration following consultation with Surrey Police and a number of stakeholders. If successful, this would be just one of a range of robust security measures we are implementing to ensure the event can go ahead safely.

“We are proud to stage The Derby Festival and hope that the thousands of people who look forward to attending over the two days and the millions more watching at home and around the world are able to enjoy what is not only an important event for the sport but an iconic moment in the British summer and a celebration of the Thoroughbred.”

A High Court hearing, which will rule on the injunction, is scheduled for Friday.