'They are attention seekers' AP McCoy blasts Saturday's Grand National protesters

'They are attention seekers' AP McCoy blasts Saturday's Grand National protesters

Legendary retired jockey AP McCoy has slammed the protesters who tried to stop Saturday's Grand National race at Aintree.

Scottish horse Corach Rambler, ridden by Derek Fox, won the famous race, but this was preceded by a delayed start due to protesters attempting to gain entry to the track.

The protesters breached security fences as the National runners were in the parade ring, causing a delay of 12 minutes to the 5:15pm start.

Merseyside police confirmed that 118 people were arrested over the disruption to the event. Two horses also had to be put down after the race.

"Just after 5pm, a large number of protesters attempted to gain entry onto the course," said Merseyside Police. "The majority were prevented from breaching the boundary fencing, but the nine individuals who managed to enter the course were later arrested by officers."

Animal rights group, Animal protest, said after the arrests, "As a society, most of us would proudly consider ourselves to be animal lovers. But there are industries that exist and thrive in the UK today that are not displaying this love for animals, and, in fact, are causing many of them unnecessary and prolonged suffering.

"Horses forced to compete in events such as the Grand National are made to endure repeated whipping and run in dangerous, 'high-risk' events where they may face injury or death. Since 2000, 55 horses have died at the Aintree racecourse, including 15 from the Grand National itself.

"Despite this, research has shown that the majority of attendees of horse racing events like the Grand National are primarily motivated by the social aspect of the event, rather than anything to do with the races themselves.

"This means that horses are forced to suffer and risk their lives for a part of the event that most attendees are at best indifferent to. These beautiful animals are simply suffering for tradition - and for the gambling industry.

"This is unacceptable. Horses, like all animals, have the capacity to feel joy and pain much like we do and should not be forced to partake in dangerous events against their will. We have an opportunity to come together and build a society that is kind to animals, that considers their pain and their needs, rather than exploiting them for entertainment or food.

"As a society, we are becoming more and more aware of the horrors of horse racing, and of the potential for a brighter, kinder future. We have the power to end cruel horse racing in the UK forever - please help us make this happen."

Speaking on ITV on Saturday, McCoy claimed the protesters were simply looking for notoriety on the day. "They're attention-seekers, and unfortunately we're giving them attention," he said. "These people don't have any understanding of horses and how well they are cared for."

Lucinda Russell, the trainer of the winning horse, added, "It is a real pain in the neck. Are the protestors doing it for themselves or for the horses?" she said. "If they are doing it for the horses, then they have got to understand that they are compromising their welfare just now."