The Jockey Club, owners of Epsom racecourse, have secured a court injunction which will significantly increase the punishment for anyone choosing to disrupt the greatest flat race in the world, the Derby, next weekend.
Courses around the country have been hit by protests by animal rights groups, including Animal Rising, who have laid down on racetracks and entered the course during races in order to disrupt racing.
The Jockey Club said that Animal Rising had made it “explicitly clear” they intend to disrupt the Oaks and Derby meeting, held on Friday and Saturday of next week.
The injunction means that anybody who chooses to enter the track will be faced with contempt of court proceedings.
The Jockey Club’s Chief Executive, Nevin Truesdale, said: “Our number one priority will always be to ensure that the safety of all our equine and human participants and racegoers, officials and our own employees is not compromised.
“Animal Rising have repeatedly made it explicitly clear that they intend to break the law and disrupt The Derby Festival and that left us with no choice but to seek this injunction, having consulted with a number of stakeholders including Surrey Police,” he continued.
“We will never tolerate a repeat of the illegal disruption we saw at Aintree on Grand National Day and we welcome today’s High Court ruling, which provides us with an additional layer of security to combat the threat of such dangerous and reckless behaviour.”
Last year the Derby was nearly disrupted by two protestors who entered the track near the finish line, but who were apprehended by a quick-thinking policeman.
The Derby is particularly vulnerable to protests due to its unique free entry to the Hill, on the inside of the testing flat course.
Animal Rising has been offered a specific area away from the track, near the Grandstand on Epsom Downs, in which the Jockey Club has invited them to protest should they wish.
This year’s edition of the Derby has been moved to an early afternoon start in order not to clash with the FA Cup Final.