An 'illegal' horse and trap race has been broken up by police on the A33 near Micheldever.

Crowds had returned to the scene of an illegal horse and trap race held earlier this month yesterday morning.

But while police allowed the previous event to go ahead, this time officers from Hampshire’s police and roads unit broke up proceedings.

Now officers say an investigation into the offences committed has been launched.

A spokesman said: “On routine patrol this morning, we came across a number of vehicles including ‘horse and traps’ obstructing the free flow of traffic on the A33 between Winchester and Basingstoke.

“The event was stopped and there will be an investigation into the offences committed.”

Horse and trap racing, also known as harness racing, is a type of horse racing in which the animals pull a two-wheeled cart behind them, occupied by a driver.

Spectators bet on the outcome of the races.

The first event ran on May 1 and 2, with nearby residents saying they saw attendees arriving from 6.30am each morning.

Members of the public at the time questioned why the police did not stop the event from taking place.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary defended its actions, saying: "Whilst at times the road was closed entirely, for the majority of the time, and when safe to do so, we were able to partially open the road to allow traffic through.

“This type of action is not exclusive to this event, as with any large gatherings we have seen across the country this past year, policing always has to balance whether allowing an event to happen, even if illegal, is safer than the risks of shutting it down.”

However, they added that “This is an illegal sporting event, and we do not support or facilitate it”, despite the primary focus having to be on safety.