The UK’s horse-racing authority has lashed out against unruly protesters threatening the sanctity of the top events of one of the UK’s leading sports.
BHA Comes Down
British Horseracing Authority (BHA) castigated the behaviour of protestors at the 2023 Epson Derby as “reckless and dangerous.”
A total of over 30 individuals were arrested as a result of their actions at the June 12 Epsom Derby, after attempting to disrupt the event under the protest directives of animal rights group Animal Rising.
Potential Ongoing Protests
A series of protests have been mapped out by Animal Rising designed to disrupt British horseracing events.
One protestor gained access to the major horseracing Epsom Downs event racetrack but was tackled by police before disrupting the race.
In response to the spectre of protests, Epsom Downs Racecourse operator Jockey Club secured an injunction last month from the UK High Court to prevent protestors from disrupting the Derby Festival--after protestors delayed the start of the Grand National in the previous month of April.
The Protest Bans
The injunction obtained by the Jockey Club specifically imposed bans on entering or throwing objects on the track, entering the parade ring, and any other action that could disrupt proceedings.
All violators have been subject to contempt of court, as indicated in the injunction.
BHA Spokesperson Speaks
BHA chief executive Julie Harrington lashed out at the protesters’ behavior, due to the physical threat the protests posed to all participants:
We strongly condemn the actions of the individual who ran onto the track after the Derby had started.
Contradictory Protest Actions
Despite Animal Rising going on record repeatedly insisting the protest organisation would do nothing to jeopardise the safety of horses and riders, Harrington called them out for the exact behavior Animal Rising claims it is trying to avoid. Harrington supported the suppression actions whole-heartedly:
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.
Thanking Local Police
Harrington went on to thank the local authority Surrey Police for their preventive “decisive actions ahead of the Derby.”
In the UK, a sport as stately and popular and as traditional as horseracing should not be indignified by unruly protests of any kind, and the BHA is well within their lane to come out strongly on the dangers that these protests have posed.