Yel­low jacket protest dis­rupts rac­ing

The Citizen (KZN) - - RACING EXPRESS - Chan­tilly

– Five races at a French race meet­ing were postponed from Satur­day to yes­ter­day after a large group of pro­test­ers oc­cu­pied the course for more than two hours.

A nine-race card had been sched­uled at pic­turesque Chan­tilly, but it was pos­si­ble to run only the first four after the lengthy de­lay.

Ja­nine Hamil­ton, trav­el­ling head girl for British trainer Ge­orge Baker, es­ti­mated the group to be 500-strong. She said the protest was not against Chan­tilly or French rac­ing, but rather part of the “gilets jaunes”, or “yel­low jack­ets”, move­ment, which was ini­tially an ob­jec­tion to a pro­posed tax hike on petrol but has de­vel­oped into a wider anti-gov­ern­ment re­bel­lion and caused ma­jor dis­rup­tion across France in re­cent weeks.

Hamil­ton said: “This wasn’t at all about rac­ing – it was to do with the prob­lems they’re hav­ing here with tax and the stan­dard of liv­ing. But it was an un­usual venue to use with an­i­mals in­volved.

“The wel­fare of horses is the most im­por­tant thing. It was very loud. The pro­test­ers had flares, drums and whis­tles.”

Re­call­ing how the in­ci­dent un­folded, Hamil­ton said: “They ar­rived just be­fore the horses were about to go down to post for the first race. Ini­tially rac­ing was sup­posed to be de­layed for 30 min­utes, but that passed.

“They were nowhere near the horses. But the horses could hear them. They came across the course and con­gre­gated near the win­ning post. It was very loud.”

Baker said he had been sent a note from France Galop warn­ing dis­rup­tion was pos­si­ble.

Hamil­ton said a large po­lice pres­ence ar­rived at the course to deal with the pro­test­ers.

Rac­ing even­tu­ally got un­der way two and a half hours later than sched­uled. –

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