Epsom Derby: Racecourse on high alert for Animal Rising activists threatening to disrupt Derby
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Epsom racecourse is on high alert for animal activists attempting to disrupt the Derby. The first afternoon of the Derby Festival on Friday (June 2) passed without any disturbance but activists Animal Rising have threatened to disrupt the event this weekend.
Animal Rising have threatened to try and force the Derby to be abandoned, which would be the first time in the event’s 244-year history. The same group of activists previously failed to carry out a similar threat at the Grand National in Aintree back in April.
Despite not succeeding in cancelling the event, the race was delayed for around 15 minutes after a small group of protestors scaled a fence before attempting to attach themselves to another fence. The Epsom Racecourse is however more difficult to secure, with a public right of access to large parts of the downland area where the race is held.
Thousands of spectators flock to the public right of access area each year to watch the event for free from the Hill enclosure in the centre of the racecourse. Organisers have spent an additional £150,000 on security measures, with notices placed at regular intervals around the fences of the Derby course.
One-and-a-half-miles of notices warn potential protestors they could be liable for any damages or even face being imprisoned for contempt of court. Protesting would put them in breach of an injunction awarded to the Jockey Club, which owns the track, in the high court last week.
Despite the warnings, Animal Rising have said they are still prepared to defy the injunction. The activist group are also inviting supporters to take part in “an alternative festival of family friendly fun, food and games” closely located to the main entrance of Epsom Racecourse.
Surrey Police have put a security operation in place on Derby Day to a scale that has not been seen in the event’s 244 year history. The police operation has come as a “significant extra cost” for the organisers who say they had hoped to reinvest the profits back into the sport.