Sunday, 14 Apr 2024

Dressed to their best – Racegoers kicked off Ladies Day in style

Preview of Epsom Derby

They were off to a stylish start at the Epsom Derby Festival yesterday as race-goers dressed in their best for Ladies Day. Thousands of visitors shrugged off the threat of animal rights protests and train strikes and glammed up for the prestigious event.

Organisers had staged the biggest security crackdown in the event’s 243-year history after the Daily Express exposed eco-fanatics’ plot to invade the track.

Women race-goers yesterday were mainly decked out in pastel shades, including ITN newsreader Charlene White – who wore a pink ombre off-the-shoulder dress – while their male counterparts looked smart in hats, jackets, collars and ties.

The theme was Dress To Feel Your Best, and a traditional judging panel was scrapped in favour of a public vote to choose the winner from photos on Facebook.

No doubt garnering votes was Tracy Rose, who stood out in a red, white and blue number with a huge hat. Winners will be announced later today.

Meanwhile, The Jockey Club thanked the Daily Express after we revealed fanatics from Animal Rising were plotting to sabotage the race in protest over alleged welfare concerns for the horses.

Our undercover investigation exposed a plan by organiser Beau King Houston to infiltrate the course and climb security fences on to the track. He wanted to halt, disrupt or delay the race, which was a traditional favourite of the late Queen.

But after our research was passed on, the Jockey Club was able to beef up security, with an extra £150,000 spent on making visitors, staff and horses safe.

They also obtained a High Court injunction which could result in the plotters being fined or jailed for contempt of court.

Nevin Truesdale, chief executive of The Jockey Club, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Daily Express for publishing details of Animal Rising’s plans.

“While we completely respect anyone’s right to peaceful protest, we condemn any reckless plans to breach security in an effort to disrupt the action on the track.”

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Mr Truesdale insisted racing had “never been safer”, adding: “As an industry, we’ve spent £40million on welfare over the last 20 years.

“We love these equine athletes – these superstars who get fantastic care behind the scenes.”

Today’s main event, for the Derby Stakes trophy, has been brought forward from its usual start time of 4.30pm to 1.30pm to avoid a clash with the FA Cup final. But animal rights activists have pledged to “cancel or severely delay” today’s start.

Yesterday Surrey Police warned they “will not tolerate” risks to public safety after an Animal Rising spokeswoman told Sky News she would do “what’s necessary”, including breaking the law, to protect animals. Writing on Twitter, the group claimed it was willing to “put their bodies on the line”.

There was disruption at the Grand National at Aintree in April when the race was delayed by more than 10 minutes by demonstrators making their way on to the track.

Yesterday Nathan McGovern, of Animal Rising, said: “We are looking to continue the conversation that we started at the Grand National about our broken relationship with animals and nature.

“On the ground we are looking to cause the cancellation or severe delay of the event so that everyone in the country has this discussion.” During a debate on Sky News earlier this week, Claudia Penna Rojas, of Animal Rising, said she would “do right” by the horses, even if it meant breaking the law.

She added: “We know that law isn’t always equal to morality and we know people have had to break laws throughout history to create the change that we need.” The injunction granted by High Court judge Sir Anthony Mann bans people from going on to the racetrack and carrying out other acts with the intention and/or effect of disrupting the races.

Such acts include intentionally causing objects to enter the racetrack, entering the parade ring, entering and/or remaining on the horses’ route to the parade ring and to the racetrack without authorisation and intentionally endangering any person at Epsom Downs racecourse during the two-day Derby Festival.

Those breaching the order may be subject to contempt of court proceedings and fined or jailed.

Jockey Club officials said they do not dismiss the right to peaceful protest and offered Animal Rising an area near the entrance where they can demonstrate.

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