Animal welfare concerns have forced the postponement of a fireworks display at Ayr Racecourse tonight.
A TV schedule change meant some horses due to race tomorrow would have had to arrive at the course’s stables this evening – exposing them to the noise of the pyrotechnics.
Around 1,500 spectators were expected to attend the traditional Guy Fawkes event at the course with all money raised going to the local cancer charity #BUYMSH Appeal. The event raised around £13,000 for the organisation last year.
But organisers say the event has been put back on track and will take place at the next Friday, November 10, after approval by local licensing chiefs.
“The majority of the 70 runners will arrive on Saturday [tomorrow] but with the change of the schedule the first race would have been earlier in the day at 12:25, meaning some of the horses would have had to travel up the previous day,” said racecourse PR chief Iain Ferguson.
TV schedules are routinely altered by the British Horse Racing Authority to slot in with times of races at other meetings – at the likes of Newmarket and Ascot and many others – but this particular change meant the meet at Ayr on Saturday would have had to start 40 minutes earlier than planned.
“The racing schedules change on a regular basis but 40 minutes is quite a big change,” said Ferguson.
A statement from Ayr Racecourse, posted on Twitter, said: “Unfortunately the Fireworks Display to raise funds for BUY MSH charity at Ayr Racecourse tomorrow night [FRI] has had to be cancelled. This follows concerns raised by members of the racing community over the welfare of the horses in the racecourse stables prior to racing on Saturday. Due to the revised starting time of 12:25 on Saturday, horses would be arriving earlier than normal on Friday night. In light of this the decision was taken by Ayr Racecourse to cancel the event.”
However the organiser, Nigel Martin, of local Martin & Company Solicitors, was reportedly able to negotiate a change of date for the event to next week – meaning anyone who had already bought a £5 ticket would not miss out and the charity could hopefully improve on its fundraising pot from last year.
“We are happy that Nigel has been able to rearrange so quickly,” said Ferguson.
Mr Martin said: “I have organised over 25 annual fireworks displays and this is the first time to be cancelled.
“Fortunately there is a lot of goodwill with the professional fireworks company, funfair, South Ayrshire Council and our stewards to allow us to re-schedule quickly.
“I regret any inconvenience but hope we can put on a spectacular display for the public to enjoy fireworks in a safe environment.”
A horse sanctuary in Norwich issued a fireworks warning in September after the deaths of two animals in its care last year – caused by the stress of displays.
The #BUYMSH Appeal is raising funds to build a respite care home for young people and familied affected by cancer.
Ayr Racecourse is Scotland’s only Grade 1 track and home to the jewels in the crown of Scottish Racing – the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival in April and the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival in September.