Epsom Derby: Animal rights group warns disruption with 'one thousand' protesters

The Epsom Derby takes place in June. Credit: PA

Animal rights activists have pledged to disrupt next month's Epsom Derby with "one thousand" protestors after a smaller demonstration failed to stop the Grand National.

Animal Rising - an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion - said it will stage the protest to help further its goal of "protecting animals from harm and exploitation".

The Epsom Derby is part of The Derby Festival and one of the most anticipated events to take place in the annual horse racing calendar.

For 2023, the festival will take place across Friday June 2 and Saturday June 3, in Epsom, Surrey.

A spokesperson for Animal Rising said: "We are taking this action to protect the horses from harm and to shine a spotlight on our broken relationship with animals, not only in horseracing but also in our food system."

In April, 118 people were arrested at the Grand National when protestors attempted to force their way onto the track and attach themselves to a fence using glue and lock-on devices.

The demonstration led to a 12-minute delay to the race at Aintree and accusations from a trainer, whose horse died in the race, that the protestors were to blame for the incident.

Last year, six activists were removed from the Epsom Downs Racecourse after attempting to disrupt the Epsom Derby.

Animal Rising activists are apprehended by police officers at the Grand National Festival, at Aintree. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for The Jockey Club, which runs Epsom Downs Racecourse and The Derby Festival, said: "We never comment on the specifics of our security arrangements, but clearly part of planning for any event is to ensure that all eventualities are covered and illegal protests like the one we saw at the Grand National at Aintree will not be tolerated.

"The safety and security of our racegoers and all our participants, whether equine or human, will always be our number one priority and any attempt to disrupt our events will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

"Our security teams will have a strong and visible presence, controlled centrally via extensive CCTV coverage of the site, and we will be working closely with Surrey Police who will be present on the day."

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