Number of arrests made after protesters try to stop Scottish Grand National

Coral Scottish Grand National – Ayr Racecourse – Saturday 22nd April Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Some 25 people have been arrested after animal rights protesters stormed the track at Ayr Racecourse in a bid to stop the Scottish Grand National.

The protesters from Animal Rising climbed under and over fences at around 3.20pm on Saturday, ahead of the £200,000 race, and invaded the track.

The group, which last week delayed the start of the Grand National at Aintree, said activists were “attempting to attach themselves to jumps and gates” to stop the race, which Jack Tudor-ridden Kitty’s Light went on to win.

The protest also failed to delay the event, with the off time in the 18-horse race recorded as 3.38pm.

Animal Rising activists are apprehended by police officers as they attempted to invade the racecourse Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said that a "prompt and professional response by stewards and Police Scotland officers prevented this group from causing any disruption" and that after there was "a further attempt to disrupt a later race involving a smaller group of protesters".

Mr Mairs said: "Both incidents resulted in people being safely removed and no injuries have been reported.

"Overall, there have been 25 arrests so far across the day and inquiries are continuing."

The Scottish Grand National was won by Kitty’s Light Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Sarah McCaffrey, of Animal Rising, said last week’s protest ahead of the Grand National in Aintree started a “crucial conversation about our relationship with animals and nature”.

“Today we continue that conversation. As a society, we love animals, but we have to find a way to care for them without harming them,” the protester said.

“This conversation is particularly important in Scotland where we have so much potential for nature and wildlife to thrive.

“We can all build a world that we are proud to be part of. An end to horse racing, as well as a transition to a plant-based food system, are key elements of this kinder, safer future.”

There was an increased security presence on Saturday after last week, where 118 arrests were made by Merseyside Police.

Ayr’s managing director David Brown praised the swift action of the police and security teams on course.

“The race went off to time, there was no notable delay and the professionalism of the team up here in Scotland was a credit to them, they dealt with it in a very efficient manner,” he said.

“What a great race it was and a great story, for Christian Williams to win it for the second year in a row with Kitty’s Light, after he finished second last year. I think for me this is Scotland’s showpiece race and it all ran to time.”

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