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Calgary Stampeders horse “Tuffy” waits to check in at a Montreal hotel before the 2001 Grey Cup. (ANDRE FORGET/Canadian Press)
Calgary Stampeders horse “Tuffy” waits to check in at a Montreal hotel before the 2001 Grey Cup. (ANDRE FORGET/Canadian Press)

GREY CUP

Royal York hotel tells CFL to hold its horses Add to ...

Rarely in the recent history of Canada’s largest city has there been so much intrigue surrounding a horse.

Calgary’s Grey Cup committee is embroiled in an argument that will come to a head Thursday morning at the posh Royal York hotel. While the West may want in to the landmark – to re-enact the equine lobby hijinks of the first Grey Cup festival in 1948 – hotel authorities aren’t so keen because of health and safety reasons.

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Call it the latest clash between the Central Canadian establishment and upstart Albertans.

The Calgary committee has procured a horse, and plans to use it – if not at the Royal York, then at the nearby Holiday Inn Toronto Centre, which has permitted the group to bring the animal to an invitation-only VIP cocktail party.

But the Royal York remains the goal. “We’re going to be there at 10 a.m.,” said Brad Greenslade of the Calgary Grey Cup committee.

And if they’re turned away?

“I think they’re going to be shooting themselves in the foot a little bit if they do that. We started this in 1948, it’s time to let it happen again,” Mr. Greenslade said.

The hotel kerfuffle is not the only argument taking place over a horse in Toronto this week.

The Canadian Football League and the Stamps are locked in negotiations over whether Calgary can bring in Quick Six, the horse that runs up and down the sideline after each home touchdown scored at McMahon Stadium (as fans chant “the horse, the horse”). “I’m not sure that’s quite been finalized. We’re fighting to the end,” Calgary coach John Hufnagel said about the possibility of Quick Six making the trip.

Grey Cup organizers have said there isn’t enough room at Rogers Centre to accommodate a galloping steed on the sideline, given the equipment for the broadcast and halftime show. Talks were ongoing Wednesday evening.

In 2007, the last time the Grey Cup was held in the city, the Royal York refused to open the doors when the horse came calling, although the hotel did lay out some snacks outside. That kind of accommodation may not be enough to satisfy the gang from Calgary on the occasion of the Grey Cup’s centenary.

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