Dejan Maksimovic, a director of show promoter Music Star Productions, has been quoted saying that preparations for the concert are "going smoothly," although animal rights group ORCA has warned of "the inevitable stress that the animals would suffer" and the dangers of sedating them with diazepam.
Officials from the state-run racetrack have admitted that some of the finest – and most skittish – thoroughbreds in Serbia may have to be fed a few downers when the Stones crank up their stadium-rocking decibels.
The Hippodrome’s Natasa Pavlovic said this isn’t the first time the track has staged a rock show and it wouldn’t be the first time the horses have been sedated.
ORCA said many animal rights activists are also Stones fans eagerly awaiting the show, but the organisation has still received protests over the choice of venue.
"Research has shown that noise and vibrations are the strongest causes of stress to animals," ORCA chief Elvir Burazerovic explained.
"Surely our big city has enough open spaces where even 150,000 people can fit in. We think the Hippodrome should be left to horses."
ORCA said that if it failed to convince the organizers to change the concert venue, it would contact The Rolling Stones directly and ask them to use their influence.
Stable-keeper Jovanka Prelicwas told the U.K.’s The Guardian that it’s not dangerous for the horses to be sedated with diazepam if they get to excited or distressed. The paper’s diary writer proposed that it’s something that should have been done to many of the band’s human audience years ago.
It also mused over whether the band’s backstage rider requirements will leave any horse tranquilizers for the animals themselves.
The country hopes to finally see the legendary rock band after at least two previous attempts to bring them to the country failed.
In 2003, a nearly arranged concert in Belgrade was canceled after Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated. In 2006, plans were scrapped after Keith Richards fell from a coconut tree and injured his head.