Derby festival

Three-time Epsom hero Johnny Murtagh backs Jockey Club move to prevent protesters disrupting Derby day

Johnny Murtagh: concerned for the welfare of the horses if the Derby start is delayed by protests
Johnny Murtagh: concerned for the welfare of the horses if the Derby start is delayed by protestsCredit: Patrick McCann

Efforts being made to stop animal rights protesters from disrupting the Betfred Derby are steps racing had to make with any delay to the start of this year’s Classic being “very, very bad” for the safety of those competing, according to three-time Derby-winning jockey Johnny Murtagh.

The Jockey Club, which owns Epsom, is seeking an injunction against members of Animal Rising preventing them from accessing areas such as the parade ring and crossings with the aim of stopping this year’s race on June 3, which is the group's explicitly stated intention. The injunction hearing will be held at the High Court in London on Friday morning.

Murtagh, who won the Derby on Sinndar in 2000, High Chaparral in 2002 and with Motivator in 2005, said the Derby is one of racing’s “prized assets” and needed protecting, and added that highly strung three-year-old colts represent a completely different set of animals to those competing in the Grand National.

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Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor
Published on 23 May 2023Last updated 18:00, 23 May 2023