The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has blasted the behaviour of protestors at the 2023 Epsom Derby, describing their actions as “reckless and dangerous”.
More than 30 individuals were arrested at the meeting on 3 June, with protest group Animal Rising having staged a series of protests over the event.
One protestor was able to gain access to the track but failed to stop the race, one of the key events on the UK racing calendar, after being tackled by police.
Last month, the Jockey Club, operator of Epsom Downs Racecourse, secured a High Court injunction to prevent protestors disrupting the Derby Festival. This came after protestors delayed the start of the Grand National in April.
The injunction banned people from entering or throwing objects on the track, entering the parade ring and any other action that could disrupt proceedings. Those who breached the injunction were subject to proceedings for contempt of court.
After several individuals still went ahead with protests, BHA chief executive Julie Harrington hit out at their actions and the danger this caused at the event.
“We strongly condemn the actions of the individual who ran onto the track after the Derby had started,” Harrington said. Despite Animal Rising having previously stated on multiple occasions that they would do nothing to jeopardise the safety of horses and riders, this reckless and dangerous behaviour did exactly that.
“I am grateful to Epsom’s security team for their swift response to ensure the race could be completed safely.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the staff at the Jockey Club and my colleagues at the BHA, who have worked tirelessly to ensure the Derby could be staged safely and to the race’s participants who co-operated fully during what were shortened preliminaries.
“I also want to thank Surrey police for their decisive actions ahead of the Derby.”