Father Christmas became Bad Santa when he was called before the stewards at Lingfield racecourse to account for his actions, which will now be the subject of a British Horseracing Authority inquiry.

Santa, played by Andy Irvine, the partner of a local trainer Zoe Davison, and his two elves paraded on the track before racing but because Lingfield had not sought permission the stewards intervened.

“It’s an annual event, it’s put up on the big screen and the kids come out to watch it,” said Coral’s Simon Clare, whose 12-year-old daughter, Eloise, was one of the elves.

“The stewards interviewed the clerk of the course, who … had failed to seek permission. They forwarded his comments to the BHA for consideration,” the official report stated.