Calgary Stampeders' fans attempt to bring horse into tony Royal York Hotel

The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Calgary Stampeders fans hoping to repeat a Grey Cup tradition that started more than 60 years ago at Toronto's Royal York Hotel were turned away today with a resounding "neigh."

Staff at the tony downtown hotel would not let a 15-year-old dark brown stallion through its front doors — a practice that Stamps fans started in 1948 when they rode a horse through the Royal York lobby.

Hotel spokeswoman Kerry Ann Kotani says Marty the horse couldn't go inside due to safety concerns for staff and guests.

A large crowd of Stampeders fans dressed in red jerseys and cowboy hats gathered outside to try to persuade the hotel to change its mind, chanting: "Let us in!" and "Go Stamps go!"

Instead, the hotel rolled out a red carpet to welcome Marty and offered him a bucket of carrots and apples.

The horse's rider, Calgary Grey Cup committee chairman Fletcher Armstrong, says he was disappointed the hotel wouldn't budge — especially since it's the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup.

The tradition is seen as a good luck charm for Calgary.

The Grey Cup game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts is on Sunday at Rogers Centre.