Runners and riders crash through the hurdles at Fairyhouse yesterday. INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Royal Visit

Fairyhouse scrambles to cover up anti-royal slogan burnt into turf

Grand National preparations are disrupted after a slogan protesting the Queen’s visit is burnt into turf at the finishing post.

PREPARATIONS FOR THIS afternoon’s Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse racecourse were disrupted yesterday, as racecourse staff scrambled to obscure an anti-Royal slogan burnt into the ground near the finishing post.

Staff at the racecourse in Ratoath, Co Meath (ironically known as the Royal County) noticed the slogan during yesterday’s action, when grass at the course’s finishing post began to turn brown after being daubed with weedkiller.

Though the slogan could not be made out when seen from a short distance, racegoers sitting in the main stand at the venue may have been able to discern the words, which read ‘F*** THE QUEEN’.

Staff have been able to camouflage the slogan by pouring bags of cut grass over the burnt-out lettering – which they believe must have been attacked at some point last week by someone mindful of the high-profile races this week.

The course’s acting manager Peter Roe told today’s Belfast Telegraph that only a minority of attendees at yesterday’s meeting would have been aware of the slogan, but acknowledged that his staff were “shocked” by the incident.

The track is usually left open for the public and many from the Ratoath area use it as a walking track.

Junior minister for agriculture Shane McEntee, whose Meath East constituency include the Fairyhouse course, told that the action was “just ridiculous” and “quite stupid in this day and age”.

“We don’t all have to bow to the Queen if you don’t want to, but the visit is vital. It’s stupid to see something like that.”

McEntee said the racecourse staff had done a good job covering the slogan, however, and said he did not expect it to be visible at any time today. Security has been beefed up for today’s meeting as a result.

The Irish Grand National gets underway at 4:55pm with Quantitativeeasing, ridden by Tony McCoy, the early favourite.

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