A RACING panda and a hedgehog will be taking on all-comers when a North-East racecourse turns into “Royal Mascot” in aid of a pioneering charity.

Snowdrop the Hedgehog and Pawsum the Panda, the two mascots for the North East Autism Society, have challenged their woodland friends to a race at Redcar Racecourse on Zetland Gold Cup Day on Monday, May 27.

Local businesses are being invited to join in the fun by sponsoring their own racing critter to compete with the high-speed hedgehog and panda. In return for £100 to sponsor a runner, businesses can choose their own mascot from a selection of costumes, and will receive free grandstand entry to the racecourse.

Lisa Taylor, from the North East Autism Society, said: “This is a great opportunity for organisations in the Tees Valley and beyond to do something really fun and a bit silly, while supporting the vital work we do all over the region.

“We hope that as many animals as possible will take on Snowdrop and Pawsum, and we will all be able to enjoy a fantastic race!”

Choices on offer include a horse, a crocodile, and a dragon – Jockey, Croccy and Jabberwocky – with lots more available on request. Alternatively, runners can supply their own mascot costume, if their business has one.

Mascots will show off their stuff in the parade ring, before racing down Redcar’s final furlong to decide the fastest animal. In true royal fashion, the winning connections will be presented with their prize by Her Majesty the Queen (or a cardboard cut-out of her, at least).

Racecourse manager, Amy Fair, said: “Normally it’s just horses that race at Redcar, so we’re very interested to see how other animals get on!

“We’re working with NEAS to become the country’s first autism-friendly racecourse, and we’re delighted to support their work with this race.”

Snowdrop and Pawsum have been using Pelaw Grange Greyhound Stadium at Chester-le-Street to train for the big race so are bound to be in peak condition.

Zetland Gold Cup Day will also feature traditional children’s races, including the sack race and egg and spoon, so there is guaranteed to be lots of family fun.

One of the races on the card will be named in honour of the North East Autism Society and a bucket collection will be held for the charity.

  • Any companies wishing to take part in the Royal Mascot race should contact Sophie Clarke on 0191 410 9974 or email sophie.clarke@ne-as.org.uk.