The Grand National, one of the world’s most famous horse races, has been delayed after animal rights activists scaled fences around the perimeter of Aintree racecourse and got onto the track.
The developments on Saturday came after three people were arrested earlier in the day in connection with a plan by the activists to disrupt the race. All three were arrested on “suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance,” Merseyside Police said.
Some of the activists from an estimated group of 300 climbed the high fences around the racecourse and got onto the track a few minutes before the race was scheduled to start, apparently attempting to handcuff themselves to the obstacles.
Police and security officials were seen stopping other activists and shaking the perimeter fences to prevent others mounting them. Nine people were arrested for trying to gain access to the track.
The race was delayed as a result and the 39 horses were kept in the parade ring. It was originally scheduled to begin at 5:15pm local time .
Animal Rising had called on protesters to gather outside the racecourse to demand an end to “animal cruelty for entertainment”. The group tweeted a video that it said shows one of its spokespeople being arrested at the protest.
There have been four fatalities from 356 runners in the nine Grand Nationals since.
Four horses died at the Aintree festival last year, including two who were injured in the Grand National.
Another horse, Envoye Special, suffered a fatal injury in the Foxhunters’ Chase – run over the fences used for the Grand National – on Thursday.