Two of the 10 life-sized horse sculptures erected in Cheltenham, UK to mark the 100th anniversary of the area's National Hunt Festival, were damaged by vandals before the unveiling took place.
They were placed in various locations around the town during the weekend, but vandals struck two of those in the Promenade before the official unveiling on Monday.
The exhibition, called Horse Parade, was organised by Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum. The sculptures, which are sponsored by local organisations, were designed by local artist PJ Crook and painted by artists, schools and businesses.
"The maquette for the sculpture of the horse has been designed and made by PJ Crook. From this, the London-based company 3D-Eye (who created the London elephants) have sculpted and cast a life-size race horse," stated a Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum press release.
Equine artist Sally Lancaster painted one of the horses. It was sponsored by Racing Post and they wanted images of racing legends painted on it. She posted photos of the sculpture after she had painted it grey on her website, and wrote about the work she was doing.
"I think it's brilliant. We love the races and we following anything to do with horses," Sandra Bird, who had stopped for a close look at the horses, told the Gloucestershire Echo. "The majority of people here are interested in racing and it always brings people and money to the town so it does a lot of good for Cheltenham. I'm pleased the anniversary is being recognised like this."
Most people were pleased with the sculptures but one many said he didn't think they were relevant to Cheltenham at this time of year and should only be up during Gold Cup week.
PJ Crook said she expected that people would try to get on the backs of the horses but didn't expect damage to be done so quickly.
"I'm surprised that they've been purposely damaged because a lot of work, effort and organisation has gone into this whole project," the BBC quoted her as saying.
Photos can be seen on the Gloucestershire Echo website here and here.