The Grand National returned to Aintree for another thrilling spectacle of horse racing, with ‘I am Maximus’ storming home for victory.

However, Aintree has faced protests due to the Grand National being one of the deadliest horse racing meetings with 65 horses dead since 2000.

Animal Aid have been at the forefront of campaigning against the horse racing industry for more than two decades.

They have frequently expressed their concerns with Aintree through protests.

Despite initially declaring they would not protest at this year’s races, there was a small team who held cardboard cut-outs outside the entrance of the racecourse.

Dane Stansall, horse welfare consultant at Animal Aid, said: “It’s been less worthwhile protesting when there’s a big police presence. They do limit what you can actually do and say, hand out leaflets etc so it’s very confining.

“Protestors should be, allowed in our view, to be at various parts around the course where people are penned in so that we can try and dig out information out – but we’ve found that that has been restricted to one very small spot.”

More than 100 arrests were made at the 2023 Grand National, after protestors ran onto the racetrack causing a delay to the big race.

From this, rules against protestors were changed to avoid more serious interference with the races.

Dane added: “There was a threat that if those same people attended again, then they would be breaking particular rules set and they could go to prison.

“I think that’s what scared a lot of people off.

“It’s those restrictions that are limiting protestors and that’s limiting people’s freedom of speech.”

The Jockey Club announced new safety measures to the 2024 Grand National, in a bid to reduce the growing death count of the course.

Five changes were made, including a reduction in numbers racing and changes to fences.

Although no one died in the main event, on Ladies Day (12th April) horses Giovinco and Pikar both fell at jumps in two different races and died as a result.

This is a 50% reduction of what we have seen in the past two years, but it still shows that serious work is needed to be done to help Horse and Jockey safety.

“The idea that because no horse died in the actual race that that should be a celebration, when two horses where left dead – I think its very bad and the racing industry is still failing to end the tide of deaths that happen across Britain – around nearly 200 horses die per year at British racecourses.

“Over 150 of them are in jump racing, so we are campaigning to ban jump racing altogether… I do believe there’s a chance we can ban jump racing.”

(Photo courtesy of Liverpool John Moores University)