MELBOURNE (AFP) - Pop superstar Taylor Swift has cancelled a performance at the Melbourne Cup, with animal rights activists taking credit after a campaign to highlight cruelty to racehorses.
The Grammy Award winner was announced as the headline act for the "race that stops a nation" earlier in September, and was due to sing two songs from her latest hit album Lover.
But it sparked a backlash on social media and a push by the Campaign for the Protection of Racehorses, which claimed she had "put money before compassion" and was "endorsing animal abuse".
More than 6,500 people signed an online petition urging her to cancel.
In a statement late on Saturday (Sept 21), promoter Mushroom Events cited scheduling issues as the reason for Swift's no-show.
"Changes to her Asian promotional schedule have made it logistically impossible for her to be here," it said.
The Campaign for the Protection of Racehorses applauded the decision.
"The pressure on Swift to cancel her performance was significant," it said on Facebook.
"Her fans did not want to see her supporting animal abuse. While the reason being used by the racing industry is a scheduling mix-up, it appears to us that she has responded to those calls."
Six horses have died at the Melbourne Cup since 2013, including one in 2018 when Irish five-year-old The CliffsofMoher was euthanised. It suffered a fractured right shoulder during a race that has been run on the first Tuesday of November since 1876.
"Obviously, this (Swift pulling out) is disappointing for everyone," said Victoria Racing Club chief executive Neil Wilson.
"We understand how important the pre-Cup entertainment is, and we look forward to providing an update (on other acts) shortly."