Newcastle is again at the centre of a derby-day horse-punching scandal.
Police are hunting three men after a fibreglass steed, named Herby, was punched in the face and dragged to the ground outside the Herb Garden pizza restaurant in Newcastle's Westgate Road
The horse, which was clad legwarmers and two pairs of roller skates, was left damaged as a result, and the restaurant owners are appealing for the public to help track down those responsible.
The vandalism harked back to derby day in 2013, when a Newcastle United fan punched Bud the police horse in the face outside St James's Park.
Lucy Clinch, head chef of the Herb Garden, told reporters that staff were heartbroken at the attack on their beloved mascot.
“Herby is there to generate interest and attract customers because we are in a listed building and can’t have too much signage up.
“I have no idea what comes into their minds, it breaks our hearts every time it happens. Herby is our mascot and it’s not right that he gets attacked.
“He is always poking his head through the front door and people stop to get pictures with him.
“It’s just a shame.”
Lucy said Herby has been attacked in the past - and it often happens on derby day. The fibreglass horse will now be repaired and removed from the front of the restaurant.
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “At 3.15pm on October 25 we received a report of criminal damage at the Herb Garden on Westgate Road, Newcastle.
“Inquiries are ongoing and anyone with any information or who recognises the men is asked to contact police on 101, extension 69191 quoting reference number 690 of 25/10/15.”