Animal rights protester runs across Epsom Derby track as more than 30 arrested for plans to disrupt event

3 June 2023, 13:42 | Updated: 3 June 2023, 16:51

Derby protester runs across the track

By Kit Heren

More than 30 animal rights protesters were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of plans to disrupt the Epsom Derby, including a man who ran across the track before being tackled to the floor by security guards.

The male protester ran across the track from the grandstand after the gun had gone and was bundled over by staff. He was then arrested by police.

Minutes later, a woman attempted to climb the fence but was pulled to the floor by police.

The protest, which came during the main Derby race itself, did not affect the race as the horses were on another part of the course.

Chief Superintendent Clive Davies said: “Our officers and event security responded quickly and decisively after a man ran onto the racetrack after a race had begun.

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“We will not tolerate criminal behaviour which puts lives in danger, including those of the animals, jockeys, security staff and our officers.”

Twelve people were arrested within the race course site itself, while 19 were arrested ahead of the event.

The main Derby race was won by Auguste Rodin, ridden by jockey Aidan O'Brien.

Two protesters were arrested after trying to disrupt the Derby on Saturday
Two protesters were arrested after trying to disrupt the Derby on Saturday. Picture: Getty

Surrey Police said 11 people were arrested at addresses in Mitcham and Byfleet in the early hours of the morning following warrants based on intelligence received ahead of the festival.

Read more: 19 animal rights activists arrested after planning to disrupt Epsom Derby, as police make dawn raid

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A protester runs onto the race track
A protester runs onto the race track. Picture: Getty

Eight people were also arrested after a vehicle stopped in Burgh Heath at about 10.20am.

A further twelve were arrested within the Epsom Downs racecourse after the event began on Saturday morning,

All of them remain remain in police custody. Activists from the group Animal Rising had pledged to "cancel or severely delay" the Derby in the lead-up to the event.

Writing on Twitter, the group had earlier claimed it was willing to "put their bodies on the line".

The man was soon wrestled to the floor
The man was soon wrestled to the floor. Picture: Getty

In a defiant announcement following the arrests, Animal Rising said police would not stop them from disrupting the Derby. They said: "Earlier this morning, at least 10 arrests were made by Surrey Police, allegedly in connection with the Epsom Derby.

"This comes after reports of facial recognition camera around Epsom Downs Racecourse.

"Police heavy-handedness and intimidation tactics will not prevent a national conversation about our animals and the natural world.

"It restates its commitment to protect horses and disrupt the Derby."

The protester did not manage to disrupt the race
The protester did not manage to disrupt the race. Picture: Getty

Superintendent Michael Hodder of Surrey Police said: "We have been clear in our approach that criminal activity will not be tolerated at the Epsom Derby Festival.

"As a result of intelligence, we have arrested 19 people who we believe were intent on illegally disrupting today's events."

It comes after Mike Tindall said before the event that he wished animal rights activists would "go and spend a bit of time at professional yards" to see how well horses are looked after.

The former England rugby player was joined by his wife Zara Tindall, daughter of the Princess Royal, at Epsom on Saturday.

The protester was one of two arrested at the race
The protester was one of two arrested at the race. Picture: Alamy

The late Queen's granddaughter competed in the London 2012 Olympics, winning a team eventing silver medal, which was presented by her mother Princess Anne.

When asked about the protesters, Mr Tindall said: "I wish they would just go and spend a bit of time at professional yards and have a look at how well the horses are looked after.

"I know how well my wife looks after her horses and how much she cares for them. They are like people. I've been to AP McCoy's yard where he's been having a birthday party for one of the horses. They are treated unbelievably well.

"Unfortunately, tragedy happens in the wild probably more than it does on the track and people forget this.

"All you can say is I know how well every trainer looks after their horse and every jockey cares about their horse, and you just wish they'd see that a bit more."