British Horseracing Authority refuses to give in to demands of activists

The British Horseracing Authority refuses to be “coerced into any activity by threats of protests” ahead of Royal Ascot, which gets under way next week.

Activist group Animal Rising reportedly stated at a press conference on Wednesday that it would not disrupt the Royal meeting if leaders from racing took part in a televised debate.

Despite claiming they would not attempt to enter the racetrack at Epsom once the Derby was under way, one member did so and was remanded in custody until July 6 after pleading not guilty to a public nuisance charge.

This followed on from disruption to the Grand National and attempts to delay the Scottish National, with 19 protesters accused of trying to stop the Ayr race due to stand trial in September.

BHA chief executive Julie Harrington said: “At a press conference today, Animal Rising said they will cease their protest activity this summer if British racing agrees to take part in a public debate about ‘the morals of horseracing’. We will never allow British horseracing to be coerced into any activity by threats of protests.

“Animal Rising have shown by their reckless actions at the Epsom Derby that their public promises cannot be trusted. They have demonstrated they are prepared to commit reckless and potentially unlawful acts and to directly threaten the safety of horses and people to generate publicity around their wider aims. These aims include the end of all use of animals by human beings.

“Spokespeople for the sport have already taken part in well over an hour of televised debate since April. Throughout those debates the message was clear – that British racing is a sport which is proud of its welfare record, which provides an unparalleled quality of life for the 20,000 horses that compete each year, and which constantly works to minimise the levels of avoidable risk.

“Once again I call on Animal Rising to end their reckless acts against a sport legally enjoyed by millions of people every year.”

Epsom had secured an injunction prior to the Derby Festival after it said protesters from the group had made it “explicitly clear” they intended to breach security, but last week officials at Ascot said they would not be following suit “at this time”.

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