PANTO horse racers are hoping not to make an ass of themselves as they reprise their charity race internet sensation entry Wonky Donkey.

Runners and riders at Lookers Volkswagen, Darlington, are under starters orders for the St Teresa’s Charity Stakes, at Catterick Racecourse, on Wednesday, July 10.

The Lookers Volkswagen two-man team, of sales executives Ryan Macdonald and Matthew Singh, became global internet stars following last year’s race after veering wildly off course and crashing into the rails with all the action being caught on camera by Racing UK.

“We got 1.7million hits on YouTube after last year’s race,” said Ryan, 24, of Darlington.

“Customers were coming into the dealership for months afterwards and still recognising us from the footage.

“We were in the lead, but running in a straight line in full panto donkey costume is not as easy as it looks, Matthew tripped me from behind and I lost my trainer and then it all went wrong from there. When I hit the barrier I actually thought we had crossed the finish line and won then I took the donkey head off and saw everyone laughing.”

The annual St Teresa’s Hospice Charity Race Day helps to raise money to fund the hospice, on Woodland Road, Darlington, which provides free care and support for residents of Darlington, South West Durham and North-Yorkshire who are affected by life-limiting illness.

Wonky Donkey will be joined by a second Lookers Volkswagen duo for this year’s race lining up against general manager Lee Potts, sales manager Dave Clark and their panto horse Vin Petrol.

“This will be the third time that we have entered the panto horse run for St Teresa’s and it was such good fun that this year we will be having two teams running,” said Lee, 40, of Sunderland.

The Volkswagen dealership, which is also sponsoring the race, will get to choose the best turned out horse and present the trophy to the winner.

Places are still available in the St Teresa’s VIP Hospitality Suite at £65 per person. This includes an arrival drink, buffet lunch, afternoon tea and coffee, a private tote and a talk from the race announcer. They are limited and are by invitation only. For further details contact (01325) 254321 or email events@darlingtonhospice.org.uk.

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are also available for businesses wanting to be seen by more than 2,000 race-goers on a televised race day; contact the Income Generation Team on (01325) 254321.