On Saturday, 22nd April 2023, 24 vegan activists from the animal rights group Animal Rising were arrested at the Scottish Grand National, a horse racing event in Ayr, Scotland, after they carried out protests trying to stop the race. They were trying to replicate the highly publicised protests the same group undertook at the English Grand National a few days earlier, where 118 protestors were arrested. The race, which has taken place at Ayr since 1966, went ahead with only a few minutes delay.
Animal Rising claimed dozens of supporters managed to get on the track and they posted a video on their Twitter feed showing at least four activists breaking through the fence around the racecourse at Ayr, with some making it onto the track.
A Police Scotland statement the next day confirmed the activists were due to appear in court the following Monday. It said: “Following the conclusion of the operation at Ayr Racecourse on Saturday, 22 April 2023, the total number of people arrested and charged is 24. All are in connection with a breach of the peace. They have all been released, and are due to appear at Ayr Sheriff Court on Monday, 5 June, 2023.”
Protester Sarah McCaffrey said to the BBC that last week’s protest at the Grand National started a crucial conversation about our relationship with animals and nature. She said, Today we continue that conversation. As a society, we love animals, but we have to find a way to care for them without harming them. This conversation is particularly important in Scotland where we have so much potential for nature and wildlife to thrive. We can all build a world that we are proud to be part of. An end to horse racing, as well as a transition to a plant-based food system, are key elements of this kinder, safer future.”