The Jockey Club, which runs Epsom Downs Racecourse, has today lodged an application to the High Court seeking an injunction to prohibit acts intended to disrupt The Derby Festival.
British racing’s largest commercial operator and employer said it had been forced to take the decision because protesters from Animal Rising continue to make it “explicitly clear” that they intend to breach security at the Surrey racecourse to stage a disruptive protest, which may compromise the safety of equine and human participants and all racegoers.
An injunction would in no way threaten the right of anyone to protest in a peaceful and law-abiding way and The Jockey Club has already offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance of the racecourse specifically for this purpose on Derby Day (Saturday 3rd June).
Details of The Jockey Club’s application for an injunction can be found on its website HERE. The injunction sought would prohibit individuals from entering onto the racetrack and carrying out other acts with the intention and/or effect of disrupting the races. Such acts include intentionally causing objects to enter the racetrack, entering the parade ring, entering and/or remaining on the horses’ route to the parade ring and to the racetrack without authorisation, and intentionally endangering any person at Epsom Downs Racecourse during the two-day Derby Festival.
If the injunction is granted, individuals acting in breach of the court order could be subject to proceedings for contempt of court, which may lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.
A High Court hearing, which will rule on whether to grant the injunction, has been scheduled to take place on Friday 26th May.
Nevin Truesdale, Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said: “In planning for The Derby Festival our number one priority will always be to ensure that the safety of all our equine and human participants and the thousands of racegoers who join us at Epsom Downs is not compromised.
“We respect everyone’s right to peaceful and lawful protest and with that in mind have offered Animal Rising a space for this purpose directly outside the racecourse during The Derby Festival.
“However, Animal Rising have made it explicitly clear that they intend to breach security and access the track itself in an attempt to stop racing taking place and it is our duty and obligation to do everything we can to protect everyone’s safety and prevent a repeat of the illegal and reckless protests we saw at Aintree in April.
“As such the decision to apply for an injunction is a course of action we have been forced to take and is the result of careful consideration following consultation with Surrey Police and a number of stakeholders. If successful, this would be just one of a range of robust security measures we are implementing to ensure the event can go ahead safely.
“We are proud to stage The Derby Festival and hope that the thousands of people who look forward to attending over the two days and the millions more watching at home and around the world are able to enjoy what is not only an important event for the sport but an iconic moment in the British summer and a celebration of the Thoroughbred.”