ONE of North Wales’ most prominent landowners and Master of the Eryri Hunt could be banned from every racecourse in the UK after staging a sit-down protest in the middle of a race.
Jockeys screamed at Richard Williams to stay still as horses thundered towards him during the final race at the May Day point-to-point meeting at Eyton-on-Severn in Shropshire. Eventually, course officials and spectators bundled him to safety.
Last night Williams, who first hit the headlines when he sold the summit of Snowdon for £3.5m to the National Trust in 1998, declined to comment. But the Daily Post can reveal he was formally cautioned by the police for his one-man demonstration. As the leading horses in the Scally Muire Ladies’ Open Race approached the final hurdle Mr Williams, 35, ran out and sat down a few yards in front of the jump. Spectators heard him shout: “I am doing this for freedom.”
Sarah Hopkins, riding the leading horse Bishops Hall, shouted “don’t move” as she and two others bore down on him. The first three riders all managed to avoid him, but as stewards and racegoers dragged him to safety, two other horses fell. One of the riders, Charlotte Bissett, suffered slight concussion.
One spectator said: “It all happened very quickly. At first everyone assumed that the man was an ‘anti’, but it turned out he wasn’t. Vicky Jenks, a steward standing near the final fence, said: “I was following the race and as the horses charged towards the fence, I turned and saw a man sitting on the grass. I didn’t even see him get on the course. “I suppose I should have been concerned for his safety but my first thought was ‘what on earth is that idiot doing there?”
A spokesman for West Mercia Police told the Daily Post yesterday: “I can confirm that a 35-year-old man was arrested for a public order offence and was cautioned before being released.”
Mr Williams, is Master of the Eryri Hunt and lives in Anglesey, with Judith Matthews, former North Wales regional secretary of the Country Landowners’ Association.