Animal rights protestors who disrupted Grand National say they will carry out more protests

1604 Grand national race
Police and protestors on the racecourse at Aintree Credit: PA

The people behind the protest which disrupted the Grand National at Aintree say they will be carrying out more demonstrations.

The start of the race on Saturday 15 April was delayed by 14 minutes as Merseyside Police cleared people from the racecourse.

In total 118 people were arrested on suspicion of a variety of offences, including causing public nuisance and criminal damage.

Animal Rising, the group behind the demonstration has released this statement:

"The actions taken at Aintree aimed to prevent harm from coming to horses in The Grand National, with Hill Sixteen sadly falling in the race itself, a death that would’ve been prevented if the race had not been run.

"Supporters of Animal Rising do not take the risk of arrest lightly, but taking action to protect animals and nature is more important than upholding business-as-usual.

"This is just the start of many peaceful actions to really create a national conversation about our fractured connection with animals and our natural world this summer, whether they result in arrests or not."

Three horses died at this year's Grand National meeting prompting the RSPCA to call for an urgent review into their deaths.

In a brief statement on social media, the animal welfare organisation said: "We urgently call on the British Horseracing Authority to review the circumstances of each of the sad deaths at Aintree, so that we never again exit a ‘festival of racing’ with three dead horses."

The Jockey Club released a short statement after the death of Hill Sixteen during the race: "Sadly, while racing in the Grand National, Hill Sixteen sustained an unrecoverable injury. Our sincere sympathies are with connections.

"Recite A Prayer and Cape Gentleman were assessed on course by our skilled veterinary staff and walked onto the horse ambulance for further assessment in the stables."

Hill Sixteen was the third horse to die at Aintree this year, after Dark Raven earlier on Saturday and Envoye Special on Thursday.

Meanwhile Merseyside Police have thanked members of the public for their "patience" while they dealt with protestors.

The force said: "Just after 5pm a large number of protesters attempted to gain entry onto Aintree racecourse.

"The majority were prevented from breaching the boundary fencing thanks to the extensive planning operation we had in place and the quick-thinking actions of our officers on the ground and members of security staff and the public."

The policing operation at Aintree Credit: PA

Assistant Chief Constable Paul White said: "The safety and wellbeing of everyone is of paramount concern when dealing with a large-scale public events such as the Grand National.

"The perimeter of Aintree racecourse covers an extensive area of between 4-5km and obviously poses challenges for policing.

"However we have been planning the policing of this event for a number of months and we had a robust plan in place to ensure that we had adequate staff to deal with it.

“Just after 5pm a large number of protesters attempted to gain entry onto Aintree racecourse. The majority were prevented from breaching the boundary fencing thanks to our planning and the work of my officers."