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Protesters Plan To Sabotage Grand National


A carefully planned out protest has been conducted by the group ‘Animal Rising’ to sabotage the Grand National in an attempt to put an end to horseracing. The group has rallied animal lovers to join them at Aintree on Saturday.  It intends to emphasise the “broken relationship” between humans and animals. 


Animal rights activists have had enough of the treatment of horses. But could this be a little far-fetched, when non-profit charities such as the ‘Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation’ are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the horses? Over the years the foundation has helped to advance the understanding of equine health and medicine. 


It was initially reported that over 100 activists had signed up in support of the protesting action. However, following an interview with Orla Coghan a volunteer and activist, this number has now risen to at least 300 people: “Originally I think we had about 100 people involved in the protest, now we’ve got around 300 people.”  This was coordinated using the carefully encrypted messaging app ‘Signal’. Two activists who were unknowingly filmed by the mail’s sting included a nurse and a previously notable financial journalist. 


If all goes ahead, they plan to form a human blockade across the track of the main race which sees a full plain of 40 runners. The race is due to commence at 17:15. Protesters are due to sneak onto the course with ladders and bolt cutters, but surely this seems like it will draw a great deal of attention as ladders aren’t exactly small and light objects to carry. Alex Lockwood from Extinction Rebellion has confirmed the protest will be commencing at 09:30 outside the course gates. “We want to go there and stop the harm and what we are asking people to do is come and join us from 9:30 am outside of the gates and protest, as we are allowed to do, and see if we can disrupt the race.” The activists believe that it would “kick start” a domino effect of protests at other racecourses across the country. 


Coghlan’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ interview, enhanced the groups’ motivations in finer detail. She claimed: “We’re trying to do two main things by disrupting this race. We care very much about the animals and we’re trying to protect those horses by being there on the tracks. Secondly, we want to have this public conversation – I’m sure millions of families are having these conversations around breakfast.” But is making the protest public knowledge the best idea for the activists? Surely by doing this they are indirectly informing the police about their plan which could result in their arrest?  


The creation of a human barrier could be contradictory however as it could potentially create greater dangers for the horses than the jumps themselves. Such a large sum of people standing horizontally on the tracks could easily spook the horses. Or worse if the barrier is created by the protesters once the race has begun it could result in the horses crashing at darting speeds which could lead to mass injuries for both the animals that they aim to protect as well as the jockeys and themselves. 


We have seen in the past that stepping foot on a course can lead to chronic collisions with the infamous incident of Emily Davison in 1913 at the Epsom Derby with the King’s horse. This led to her fatal death, and although the horse, Anmer recovered amazingly well he suffered some nasty bruises. 


The Merseyside Police stated that it has a: “Robust and policing plan in place” for the meet and they have also been conversing with TalkSport. They are working alongside the Jockey Club in preparation to avoid any incidents as well. The festival takes place over three days and started on Thursday.


Last year’s lucky winner, Noble Yeats is competing for another victory to stand himself on par with the famous Red Rum and Tiger Roll. But this year’s favourite is currently Corach Rambler. One horse, Envoye Special, ridden by James King has already died tragically at the Grand National. Although measures are already put in place to lessen the chance of fatalities like these happening, these can't always be avoided. But measures could perhaps be taken further, such as the lowering of jumps as well as continuing to ensure that the grounds aren't too wet and slippery, especially with the April showers.


The Grand National generates millions each year, particularly through the bets made at the bookies and tickets sold to the racegoers as well as drinks and confectioneries additionally bought. This money is then put back into the racing and the welfare of the horses so that safety measures can be put into place effectively. The Grand National is arguably the most important race of the year for this reason as it contributes to the bettering of the horseracing community for both the animals and people.  


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