THE Grand National has been officially delayed following attempts by animal rights protesters to occupy the racecourse.

Up to 300 activists from the group Animal Rising are thought to be in attendance at the event, which they say highlights the “broken relationship” between humans and animals.

Two horses have already died at this year’s Grand National Festival already.

The death toll at the Aintree Festival has now reached 61 horses since the year 2000, with 15 of the deaths occurring in the Grand National.

Footage shows dramatic clashes between protesters and police, with the race officially delayed by organisers.

Merseyside Police said three people had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance, with a 25-year-old woman from London and a 55-year-old man from Greater Manchester arrested outside the racecourse on Saturday and a 33-year-old woman from the London area arrested in the Greater Manchester area earlier in the day.

Animal Rising said on their social media channels one of those arrested outside the racecourse was Claudia Penna Rojas.

Earlier in the day she told the PA news agency: “We will be slow marching around the perimeter and at some point we may peacefully try to make our way towards the track, again to prevent this race from happening because we know horses are being harmed.”

A force spokesman said: “Merseyside Police has been working with The Jockey Club and other partners to keep people safe during the Grand National Festival.

“We are aware of some people planning to protest at the event.

“This has been factored into our plans.

“We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but criminal behaviour and disorder will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.”