BHA Will Not “Be Coerced Into Any Activity By Threats Of Protests” And Will Not Debate With Activist Group

Julie Harrington | BHA

Ahead of next week's Royal Ascot meeting, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will not take part in a nationally televised debate with Animal Rising, the organisation announced on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, animal activist group Animal Rising reportedly stated at a Wednesday press conference they would “pause” their protest activity this summer if UK racing's leaders took part in such a debate.

BHA chief executive Julie Harrington said, “At a press conference today, Animal Rising said they will cease their protest activity this summer if British racing agrees to take part in a public debate about 'the morals of horseracing'. We will never allow British horseracing to be coerced into any activity by threats of protests.”

Protestors had previously disrupted the Grand National, and Scottish Grand National this spring. Prior to the G1 Betfred Derby, Animal Rising claimed they would not attempt to enter the racecourse once the Derby was under way, but one member did so and was arrested on the track.

She added, “Animal Rising have shown by their reckless actions at the Epsom Derby that their public promises cannot be trusted. They have demonstrated they are prepared to commit potentially unlawful acts and to directly threaten the safety of horses and people to generate publicity around their wider aims. These aims include the end of all use of animals by human beings.

“Spokespeople for the sport have already taken part in well over an hour of televised debate since April. Throughout those debates the message was clear–that British racing is a sport which is proud of its welfare record, which provides an unparalleled quality of life for the 20,000 horses that compete each year, and which constantly works to minimise the levels of avoidable risk.

“Once again I call on Animal Rising to end their reckless acts against a sport legally enjoyed by millions of people every year.”

At the end of May, Epsom was granted an injunction against protestors prior to the G1 Betfred Derby Festival, and officials at Ascot said they would not be seeking a similar injunction “at this time” last week.

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