The British Racing Authority has issued a statement in response to protests that took place at the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

Following the 2023 running of the Grand National, Julie Harrington, the Chief Executive Officer of the BHA, said:

“Our thoughts are with everyone connected to the horses who suffered fatal injuries this week. No one will be more affected by this news than the trainers, owners and stable staff who have provided these horses with first-class care and attention throughout their lives.

“The BHA and Aintree racecourse will now analyse the races in painstaking detail, as is the case every year, to build on our existing data and help us understand what caused these incidents.

“British racing works tirelessly to improve the sport’s safety record and reduce avoidable risk. Every incident is reviewed by the BHA alongside the racecourse and other bodies. 

“As a sport we have for years shown great determination and commitment to improve welfare standards by taking measured scientific, evidence-based, regulatory and education-based steps.

“It is for this reason that the fatal injury rate in the sport has reduced by over 1/3 in the last 20 years, to 0.2% of runners.

“We respect the right of anyone to hold views about our sport but we robustly condemn the reckless and potentially harmful actions of a handful of people in disrupting the race at a time when horses were in the parade ring.

“Those involved in British racing are rightly proud of our sport and the role it plays in providing an unparalleled quality of life for horses bred for racing. Love and respect for horses is at the heart of everything we do.

“The Grand National is and always will be an iconic sporting event and the actions of a small number of people will do nothing to diminish its huge and enduring international appeal.”

Merseyside Police confirmed that more than 100 arrests had been made following the protests.

“We can confirm that 118 people were arrested yesterday, Saturday 15 April, following a large number of protesters attempting to gain entry onto Aintree racecourse. This includes the three people arrested earlier in the day.

“Those arrested were men and women aged between 18 and 66-years-old and came from as far as Kent, Southampton, London, Essex, Swansea, Falkirk and Glasgow.

“They were arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including conspiracy to cause public nuisance, obstructing highways and possession of controlled drugs.

“Of the 118 arrests, 65 people were taken into custody and are being processed and will be bailed pending further enquiries.”

Assistant Chief Constable Paul White said: 

“The Grand National race was temporarily delayed for a short period of time while officers dealt with protestors who attempted to gain entry onto Aintree racecourse, and this was across the whole site which covers an extensive perimeter of around 5km which in parts is open land.

“As you can understand, the safety and wellbeing of everyone is of paramount concern when dealing with large-scale public events such as this, and this includes those who are protesting.

“To put into perspective, it is estimated that around 70,000 visitors attended the Grand National and the event went safely with an enjoyable atmosphere despite the short interruption from protestors.

“We had a robust plan in place to deal with incidents, and as such our officers and security staff were able to quickly deal with the situation in a safe and appropriate manner.

“It is also important to add that we respect the right to a peaceful protest and expression of views, but criminal behaviour and disorder will not be tolerated and sadly this is what took place at yesterday’s event in an attempt to disrupt the race which resulted in the arrests.”

Mr White continued: “I would like to reiterate our sincere thanks to members of the public for not only their patience but also their support while we dealt with the protestors.

“Our continued gratitude also goes to mutual aid officers from Greater Manchester Police, North Wales Police, Cheshire Police and Durham Police, British Transport Police and our partners at Aintree racecourse, security providers and the Jockey Club for their assistance on the day.”