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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on May 06, 2002 at 20:14:03:
THE GUARDIAN (London, UK) 06 May 02 Winner by a snout ... the Arkle of alligators (Steven Morris)
The runners will certainly not have the elegance of a racehorse or the explosive speed of a greyhound but the 12.30 at Ealing tomorrow is bound to have a bit of bite to it.
Bets will be taken not on thoroughbreds or highly trained dogs but on which of six Caiman alligators will get its snout across the finishing line first.
The event is the brainchild of an online bookmaker, which is keen to put on a race that will work well when shown live on the internet. Races involving horses and dogs have proved unsatisfactory because slow computer connections led to disjointed pictures. Alligator racing, more of a stop-start affair, might just be the answer.
Ten young reptiles, up to 2ft long, will compete in heats of six at a time.. The beasts, attired in numbered waistcoats, will race on 20ft tracks separated from each other by glass. Unlike greyhounds, they will not be tempted down the track by a hare or even their favourite food - chicks - and organisers are not allowed to prod them to encourage them. Because punters have hardly been able to follow the form, all contenders will be priced at 9/2.
The organiser, Blue Square, had some success when it staged snail racing two years ago. However, "hamster drag racing" did not work quite as well because the animals went too quickly.
The event is being held at Ealing Studios in west London, and all profits will go to the World Wide Fund for Nature. So what about some inside information? Dave Broadbridge, whose company, Animal Allsorts, is supplying the alligators, said the reptiles all had distinctive personalities. "Like human beings, it all depends how they feel. If one of them is feeling lazy it won't move."
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