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WATCH: Protesters arrested at Aintree as Irish jockey wins Grand National

Derek Fox won on Corach Rambler after delayed start to the race

Derek Fox celebrates winning the Randox Grand National on Corach Rambler (David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA).© David Davies for The Jockey Club

Sports deskPA Media

Nine people were arrested after protestors broke on to the track at Aintree ahead of the start of the Randox Grand National, but the race went ahead as Irish jockey Derek Fox won on Corach Rambler

Animal Rising had threatened to disrupt the four-and-a-quarter-mile showpiece and were protesting from early on Saturday morning outside the track.

As the National runners were in the parade ring, a number of people breached security fences around the Liverpool venue and ran on to the course, delaying the famous race by around 15 minutes.

The intruders were apprehended, with the race eventually won by 8-1 favourite Corach Rambler.

Merseyside Police said: “We can confirm that nine people have been arrested at Aintree Racecourse today.

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

Dozens of activists climbed fences at Aintree, with at least two affixing themselves to a jump using glue and lock-on devices, climate and animal rights group Animal Rising said.

Animal Rising activists protested outside the track (Peter Byrne/PA)© Peter Byrne

Sarah McCaffrey, a shopworker and student – and one of those disrupting the track – said: “Whether it’s for food or for fun, our use of animals and nature is symbolic of a relationship beyond broken.

“We’re a nation of animal lovers, but the pain these beautiful creatures experience daily does not do that label justice. We need to find ways of loving animals that don’t hurt them.

“I truly believe that we are a nation of animal lovers, every one of us. I know everyone coming to Aintree to view the races today would say they love the horses; however, the suffering experienced by them should shock us all.

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“That’s why I’ve decided to put my body between those horses and death on the racecourse, rather than gamble with their lives.”

When the race finally got underway, Corach Rambler was a superb winner for trainer Lucinda Russell and jockey Fox.

Successful at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, the nine-year-old was kept out of trouble throughout after starting as the 8-1 favourite, in a race that was delayed by around 15 minutes after protestors from Animal Rising got on to the track.

He jumped into the lead over the last and pulled away when passing the elbow, holding off a closing Vanillier with Gaillard Du Mesnil third and last year’s winner Noble Yeats running a gallant race under his big weight in fourth.

It was a second victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase for Russell and Fox, after One For Arthur in 2017.

Russell said: “Those guys that went out to protest on the course, they think it’s about horse welfare but that horse loves the sport. He loves everything that he does. He’s kept in the best condition and I’m just so delighted that he can run in a race like that and perform like that.

“He has got greatness and it’s what he deserves. Corach Rambler, in our hearts, is just the best horse. Now in the public hearts he is as well. To win the National, I know how important it is, I know how it changed my life with (One For) Arthur – for Corach to achieve that too is just fantastic.

“It’s all about the horse, for me it’s not about the betting – though I did back him and quite a lot actually!

“I hope those guys who were protesting will look at our website and our Facebook posts and see how they are looked after. It is so important they understand how we care for them every inch of the way.

“It is about Corach, he is just amazing. He took to those fences brilliantly, he understood them, he worked them out – he loved it.”

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