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Arrests after animal rights protesters invade track at Scottish Grand National in bid to disrupt race
22 April 2023, 18:32 | Updated: 23 April 2023, 02:04
A number of people have been arrested after animal rights protesters rushed onto the track at Ayr Racecourse in an attempt stop the Scottish Grand National.
Police stepped in after activists from campaign group Animal Rising made it onto the track, with police confirming earlier that a "significant operation" was underway to "safely remove" those involved.
Animal Rising said around 25 of its supporters managed to get in ahead of the race, and were “attempting to attach themselves to jumps and gates”.
The race went ahead following the incident, was won by Kitty's Light.
It comes after the start of the Grand National was delayed by protests last week.
An increased security presence was in place on Saturday after the Aintree race was delayed by almost 15 minutes and 118 protesters were detained by police at the racecourse and nearby M57 protests.
Animal Rising, which is seeking draw focus to the exploitation of animals for food and sport, has vowed to continue with further race disruptions, and stage a series of animal rescues and farm occupations.
Sarah McCaffrey, of the animal rights group, said last week's protest in Merseyside had started a “crucial conversation about our relationship with animals and nature”.
“Today we continue that conversation. As a society, we love animals, but we have to find a way to care for them without harming them,” she said.
“This conversation is particularly important in Scotland where we have so much potential for nature and wildlife to thrive.
“We can all build a world that we are proud to be part of. An end to horse racing, as well as a transition to a plant-based food system, are key elements of this kinder, safer future.”
Ayr’s managing director David Brown praised the quick response of police officers and security teams to the protest.
“The race went off to time, there was no notable delay and the professionalism of the team up here in Scotland was a credit to them, they dealt with it in a very efficient manner,” he said.
“What a great race it was and a great story, for Christian Williams to win it for the second year in a row with Kitty’s Light, after he finished second last year. I think for me this is Scotland’s showpiece race and it all ran to time.”
Police Scotland said at the time: "We are responding to a protest which is ongoing at Ayr Racecourse this afternoon.
"A significant operation is under way to safely remove those involved.
“A number of arrests have been made and an increased police presence remains at the scene.”