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Grand National: Climate Activists Plan to Disrupt the Race 

Merseyside police said that "robust" plans are in place to thwart disruption of the race

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

ENGLAND: Fear of demonstrations and upheaval by animal rights activists has returned to menace the Grand National at Aintree following an undercover investigation on Sunday that seemed to reveal a plot by “up to 100” demonstrators to break into the course and glue themselves to the track before the big race on April 15.

The newspaper’s investigation uncovered video of a “training” session for 11 activists from the group Animal Rebellion, which appeared to show that its leaders had identified vulnerable areas around Aintree’s perimeter where protestors could enter using ladders or bolt cutters. 

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The organisers also stated that “safe houses” had been set up for activists to remain in the night before the race and a “fleet” of minibuses to transport them to the racecourse.

The Grand National is one of the most prominent and historic races in the world. It was first conducted on the current course, which features renowned challenges like Becher’s Brook, the Chair, and the Canal Turn, in 1839. It has a potential worldwide audience of hundreds of millions of viewers.

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The race this year will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first triumph of three-time winner Red Rum in 1973. Rachael Blackmore’s victory on Minella Times in 2021—the first for a female jockey—was also a major PR victory for the race.

However, since 2000, 15 of the 875 horses that have lined up for the Grand National—1.7%, or 1 in 58—have died as a result of their injuries, making the event a target for protests from animal rights activists who are pushing for a ban on all horse racing.

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In 1993, the race was deemed void in part due to confusion brought on by a protest that resulted in two false starts; however, in recent years, protesters have been restricted to a location close to the main entrance.

A voice is heard discussing the activists’ strategy in one clip from the undercover documentary, saying: “There are like 100 of you now at the fence. You get the ladders out. Put them up against the fence, and you’re the first one over. You start climbing that fence, and you see security on the other side. You don’t care. You know you’re doing the right thing.”

Additionally, a member of Animal Rebellion is heard stating, “[It’s] the biggest horse race in the entire world.” “We’re going to ruin this horse race in front of 600 million viewers around the globe and £300 million in wagers.”

The Aintree organiser, Jockey Club Racecourses, declines to speak on security-related matters, but Merseyside police said on Sunday that “robust” plans are in place to thwart disruption of the race.

“Merseyside Police has a robust policing plan in place for Aintree, as it does for any major public event, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved,” a spokesperson for the force said.

“We respect the right to peaceful protest and the expression of views, but public order or criminal offences will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly,” the spokesperson continued.

This year’s event falls on the 34th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, which occurred in 1989 and resulted in the deaths of 97 football supporters during a crush at a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the home field of Sheffield Wednesday.

Also Read: EU-funded Back-to-work Programs in England Are Being Compelled to Close

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