23 arrested as 2023 Grand National delayed with animal rights protesters storming track

 

On Saturday, a group of animal rights activists disrupted the Grand National horse race at Aintree, resulting in the arrest of 23 people and causing a delay in the start of the race by nearly 15 minutes. The protesters, wearing pink t-shirts and plain clothes, attempted to breach the perimeter fence or gates near Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn. Some used ladders to climb over the fence, which were confiscated by police and security staff, while others tried to climb over unaided.

Merseyside Police reported that “the majority” of the protesters were prevented from entering the racecourse, but nine individuals managed to make it onto the track. Some of them glued themselves to the second fence, while others tried to shackle themselves to the running rail by the Canal Turn. The police, in cooperation with the Jockey Club and other partners, had anticipated the possibility of protests and stated that while peaceful protest and expression of views were respected, criminal behavior and disorder would not be tolerated and would be dealt with robustly.

Prior to the race, a 33-year-old woman from London was arrested in Greater Manchester on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance in relation to the Grand National. By 6:30 pm on Saturday, a total of 23 people had been arrested before and during the racing event. Aintree confirmed that two horses, Cape Gentleman and Recite A Prayer, were taken for further veterinary inspection after the race, while Hill Sixteen was put down after falling at the first fence, with a video of the incident posted online by the animal rights group.

The actions of the protesters were condemned by prominent figures within the racing community. Grand National-winning jockey Sir Anthony McCoy labeled them “attention seekers,” and Sandy Thomson, whose horse Hill Sixteen suffered a fatal fall during the race, expressed that they “haven’t a bloody clue what they’re doing.” Other jockeys, trainers, and owners also expressed frustration at the disruption caused by the protesters, with concerns raised about the impact on horse welfare and the delay causing horses to walk around the parade area repeatedly.

Animal rights activists had expressed their intention to protest at this year’s Grand National in the lead-up to the event. In addition to protesting outside the racecourse, some activists had outlined plans to bypass security and potentially disrupt the race by creating human barriers. Orla Coghlan, a spokeswoman for the animal rights group Animal Rising, which also blocked the M57 motorway in Liverpool on Saturday, stated that “Today marks not the end, but the beginning, of the summer of Animal Rising. We will be defending animals and nature and creating an unignorable national conversation about our relationship to animals and the natural world.”

 

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In the 175th running of the Grand National, the world’s most popular horserace, it was Corach Rambler who emerged as the victorious champion. Despite initial delays caused by animal rights protesters, who failed to stop the race but managed to delay its start, the race eventually took place, and Corach Rambler, ridden by jockey Derek Fox and trained by Lucinda Russell, triumphed with brilliance and bravery.

Six years after winning the Grand National with One For Arthur, Russell and Fox once again scored a win for Scotland. However, their joy was tempered by the tragic loss of Hill Sixteen, who lost his life following a fall at the first fence. The race had been delayed due to protesters managing to get on the track, and some even attempted to attach themselves to the fences. Despite these challenges, the race eventually commenced, and Corach Rambler emerged as the victor.

Fox, who had been cleared to ride only at lunchtime due to a shoulder injury, rode Corach Rambler to perfection, allowing the horse to trail behind outsider Mister Coffey before making a decisive move at the final fence to take the lead and win the race comfortably. Corach Rambler, one of only 13 British-trained runners in the race, crossed the finish line two and a quarter lengths ahead of Vanillier, with Gaillard Du Mesnil and last year’s winner Noble Yeats taking third and fourth place.

Fox expressed his admiration for Corach Rambler, “I just let him bowl away,” said Fox. “He’s an electric jumper and so intelligent. He was in front for a long time but he won so easily. He’s a marvellous horse.”

Russell, too, was ecstatic about the victory. “That was just amazing,” declared Russell, immediately expressing a desire to comment on the scenes that took place before the race.

“Those guys that went out on the course to protest think it’s about horse welfare,” she said. “That horse loves the sport. He loves everything he does and he is kept in the best conditions. I’m so delighted he can run in a race like that and perform like that. He has now got greatness – and that’s what he deserves.

“In our hearts, Corach Rambler is just the best horse – and now he is in the public’s hearts as well.”

Russell added: “I know how important it is to win the National. I know how it changed my life with Arthur and what reverence Arthur was held in. For Corach to now achieve that is just fantastic.

“It’s all about the horses. For me, it’s not about betting, although I did back him – and quite a lot, actually, ante-post. It’s not about, though. It’s about Corach.

“That horse has been amazing. I’m delighted for myself, delighted for the team, delighted for Scu because he has done all the work with him, delighted for Derek, who has had a hard time and a problem with his shoulder, and I’m delighted for the fantastic owners.

“But you know what? It’s about Corach. He is just amazing. He took to those fences brilliantly, he understand them and he worked it out. He loved it.”

Scudamore, who had done all the work with the horse, emphasised that the safety and well-being of the horse were paramount, and winning was secondary.

“You shouldn’t get so attached to these beautiful creatures but you do,” said Scudamore. “He’ll be looked after for the rest of his life. The fact he is safe and sound means more than winning.”

Cameron Sword, one of the owners of Corach Rambler, at the age of 21, expressed his elation and praised the horse’s performance.

“I’m over the moon,” he said. “What a horse! I’m lost for words.”

Sword then gave his view on those who had tried to stop the race.

“How can you be protesting against horseracing when your protests were making the horses wait out in the sun for longer,” he said. “It makes no sense. They can do one. This is our sport and I love it.”

 

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The Grand National is the most famous steeplechase in the world, attracting millions of viewers and punters each year. As the event approaches, there is always a lot of speculation about which horses are most likely to win, and which factors are the most important for success. In this article, we will examine some of the key trends from recent years and discuss which horses might be best positioned to win in 2023.

Age has been a key factor in recent Grand Nationals, with six of the last seven winners being either eight or nine years old. This bodes well for horses such as Corach Rambler, Le Milos, Longhouse Poet, Our Power, and last year’s winner Noble Yeats, who was the first seven-year-old to win the race since before World War II. While it is possible for horses outside this age range to win, recent history suggests that younger or older horses may struggle.

Weight is another important consideration, and top weight has not won the race this century. Ted Walsh, the trainer of Any Second Now, has been critical of the weight allocated to his horse, who has finished third and second in the last two runnings. Walsh’s horse is off 11st 12lb, while Noble Yeats and Galvin carry just 1lb less. At the other end of the scale, no winner has carried less than 10st 3lb since Bobbyjo in 1999, which could be a concern for horses such as Hill Sixteen, Gabbys Cross, Recite A Prayer, Eva’s Oscar, and Our Power.

Form is always a crucial factor in the Grand National, and recent history suggests that winners tend to have won a race earlier in the season. Seven of the last nine winners had already won a race before Aintree, which is not a good sign for horses like Mr Incredible, Vanillier, Lifetime Ambition, Royal Pagaille, Roi Mage, The Big Breakaway, The Shunter, and Mister Coffey. However, three of the last five winners came into Aintree off the back of a win, which could bode well for Corach Rambler, Delta Work, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Any Second Now, Longhouse Poet, Our Power, Ain’t That A Shame, and Coko Beach.

Experience over the National fences is often seen as a key advantage, but recent history suggests that this is not necessarily the case. Nine of the last twelve winners had never run around the Grand National track, including the winners of the last two runnings. This could be a positive sign for horses like Corach Rambler, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Mr Incredible, Le Milos, and Our Power. However, five of the last ten winners had won over the National fences or recorded a top-six finish in the Coral Gold Cup, Scottish or Irish Nationals. This is a boost for Le Milos and Corach Rambler, who finished first and fourth in Newbury’s Coral Gold Cup in November.

Cheltenham Festival form is always a good indicator of Grand National success, with half of the last ten winners having run at the festival on their final start. Noble Yeats was ninth in the Ultima Handicap Chase en route to success at Aintree, which bodes well for this year’s winner Corach Rambler. Delta Work is attempting to emulate Tiger Roll by following up his win in the Cross Country with victory in the National, something his former stablemate managed in 2018 and 2019. Many Clouds was sixth behind Coneygree in the 2015 Gold Cup before winning the National on his next start, which is encouraging for Noble Yeats, who stayed on for fourth in last month’s Gold Cup.

Our verdict: Corach Rambler

Corach Rambler comes into the race on the back of a back-to-back win in the Ultima Handicap Chase, the same race that Noble Yeats won before taking last year’s National. Trainer Lucinda Russell has a successful track record in the race, having won it in 2017 with One For Arthur. At nine years old and carrying 10st 5lb, Corach Rambler is the right age and weight for success. Although lacking experience over Aintree’s National fences, this is not seen as a negative for the current ante-post market leader. In fact, favourites have had a decent record in the race, with six favourites or joint-favourites winning since 1996, despite the large field size and potential in-running drama.

 

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Grand National Trial: In a Haydock thriller, Harry Bannister and Quick Wave edge out Snow Leopardess.

In a thrilling finish to the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock, Quick Wave beat Snow Leopardess to give Harry Bannister a welcome return to big race success after an injury-plagued season.

Bannister, who suffered a hip dislocation in the fall, arrived on Quick View after longtime leaders Cloudy Glen and Snow Leopardess went to three out.

Before Cloudy Glen finally gave in, any of the three horses could have won the last jump, but Quick Wave won at 18-1 to give trainer Venetia Williams her third win in the race, and Bannister won for the second time in four years.

Quick Wave, an impressive December winner at Sandown, came to this race after a disappointing Welsh National. Paddy Power offered Quick Wave a quote of 33-1 from 50 for the Randox Grand National, while Coral offered a more optimistic 25-1 for Aintree.

“I can’t take too much credit as she’s a lovely filly and credit to Venetia and the team who had her spot on today,” said Bannister. “She’s an exceptionally good trainer and I’m just so thankful for her faith to put me back on this mare.

“I probably ended up a bit closer to the inner than I’d have liked, but we saved ground where we could and she’s travelled strongly and stayed well. She’s the ideal mare for a race like this.”

Bannister added: “It means a lot to get this first winner back, it’s been a long road and there’s a lot of people to thank.”

Prior to this victory, Quick Wave had a rating of 148, which would have allowed her to compete in all five of the most recent Grand Nationals. On Tuesday, when BHA senior handicapper Martin Greenwood releases the weights, she is likely to receive an additional couple of pounds.

 

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