Royal Ascot security plans being assessed as threat of animal rights protests lingers

Track officials plan to liaise with police in efforts to prevent disruption to five-day extravaganza

Lingering fears about animal rights protests mean security talks about potential disruption at Royal Ascot later this month are in the pipeline.

The run-up to Saturday’s Epsom Derby was dominated by a threat from the Animal Rising group that delayed the start of April’s Grand National to “cancel or severely delay” flat racing’s most famous classic.

Ultimately, they failed, although one protester briefly got on to the track while the Derby was under way before being quickly removed by security personnel. That individual has been charged with causing public nuisance.

Cross-channel racing’s next big event is the Royal Ascot extravaganza which begins in a fortnight and is among the most high-profile sporting and social occasions of the year in Britain.


Ascot officials have confirmed they are looking closely at all security options in advance of the five-day meeting.

The track’s director of racing and public affairs, Nick Smith, said: “Epsom did a fantastic job and kept the protesters under control. Anyone who saw the efforts of all involved could not fail to be impressed. Swift and decisive action was taken.

“We will be holding internal discussions and will be liaising with the Jockey Club and the police to develop and deliver our plan over the next few days. Watch this space is all I can say, at the moment.”

In racing news in the lead up to the Royal Ascot, likely better ground conditions are expected to produce a better performance from the Guineas flop Indestructible when he lines up in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Winner of the Craven Stakes in April, the ex-Irish colt, now trained by Karl Burke, failed to fire in the 2,000 Guineas over the same course and distance behind Chaldean.

That was on soft ground, however, and connections are keen to take on the winner again.

“He’s come out of the Guineas very well,” said Tom Pennington, racing and operations manager for owners Amo Racing.

“The ground probably didn’t play to his strengths at Newmarket. We’ve always said he is not a soft ground horse and it was decent ground when he won the Craven.

“He’s in decent form and is working well. Karl is happy with him and it is all systems go for the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot.

“Quick ground round a bend should see him at his best. He’s a nice horse and you don’t do what he did in the Craven without being a nice horse. I think getting on better ground will see him replicate what he did at Newmarket in the Craven.

“You can’t knock his form and his only disappointing run before the Guineas was when he was second to Chaldean at Doncaster last season.

“The ground was hock deep that day as well and he’s just not as effective on that sort of ground. He’s much better on a sound surface,” he added.

Indestructible, trained as a two-year-old by Michael O’Callaghan, is also likely to have to take on Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Guineas winner, Paddington, in the St James’s Palace.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column