Police drag away animal rights activists who ran onto Epsom Derby track to protest horse racing

Protestors are removed from the racecourse ahead of the Derby on Derby Day during the Cazoo Derby Festival 2022 at Epsom Racecourse, Surrey. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2022.
Police drag a protester off the Epsom Derby course.

Police have removed a group of animal rights activists who ran on to the track to protest horse racing ahead of the Epsom Derby.

The protesters, who were carrying banners, fell to the ground after the officers intervened and dragged them away.

Dozens of officers could be seen working to move them, as members of the royal box watched on.

The crowds cheered as they were taken away, with a voice heard over the announcement system apologising to spectators.

Animal Rebellion claimed six of its members ran on to the track at the Epsom Racecourse in Surrey ahead of the derby, in the campaign group's second Platinum Jubilee weekend protest.

Orla Coghlan, one of those there, said: “Horseracing took the lives of 220 animals on racecourses in the UK last year, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“In this country, over a billion land animals are killed for food each year. Exploitation of, and violence against, animals is fuelling the climate emergency and suffering across the globe.

Animal rights protesters are removed from the track at the Epsom Derby. Credit: PA

“It is obvious we must choose life over death and stop animal exploitation.”

A spokesperson for Animal Rebellion said: “Whether it’s horseracing, dairy, or the meat industry, animal exploitation has no part in our world.”

The Queen did not attend the derby, in the second scheduled Jubilee appearance missed by the monarch.

Her Majesty instead planned to watch the event on television, as Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations continued.

Dozens of officers were working to move them, as the Princess Royal and her family watched on.

The Queen’s daughter Anne was there alongside husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, who was with husband, former rugby player Mike.

On Friday, the Queen had also missed a thanksgiving service to mark her anniversary.

Buckingham Palace explained she had suffered “discomfort” following a busy first day of festivities, which included a double balcony appearance and a flypast.

Zara Tindall (second left), the Princess Royal (centre) and Sir Timothy Laurence watch the Derby. Credit: PA

On Thursday (2 June), members of Animal Rebellion were arrested after they entered the ceremonial route on The Mall before Trooping the Colour.

The group, which supports the Extinction Rebellion movement, said Saturday's protest was aimed at making “a definitive statement, and act, against the cruelty and harm the horse racing industry represents”.

It describes itself as a “mass movement using nonviolent civil disobedience to call for a just, sustainable plant-based food system”.

Police officers remove people who ran into the path of the royal procession on The Mall Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Women's rights advocates today marked the anniversary of celebrated suffragette Emily Wilding Davison's injury and later death at the derby.

She stepped onto the track at the Epsom Derby and was hit by King George V's horse, Anmer, at the 4 June, 1913, event.

She died in hospital four days later.

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