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Panto-monium at London's funniest horse race

John McCririck, Jimmi Harkishin and Stephen Frost are among those attending the unashamedly daft but gloriously funny charity event

By Kristian Brunt-Seymour

Crowds lined the Greenwich streets to cheer on their favourite four-footed contestants at the 5th Annual London Pantomime Horse Race today.

10 horses (and one zebra) with brushed tails and gleaming manes took part in the event sponsored by The Poke, racing through the streets to raise money for the Demelza Children’s Hospice.

Celebrity racing pundit John McCririck was also on hand at the unashamedly daft but gloriously funny charity event in London to give punters the best odds before the horses cantered through the starting gate at Devoport House, trying their best to avoid cars and the crowds.

Dev (aka Jimmi Harkishin) from Coronation Street was also unveiled to the crowd clad in a pink horse outfit borrowed from Katie Price. Prior to the event, entertainment was provided by the performers of the from the Anna Fiorentini Theatre and Film School.

There was a “may the horse be with you” theme as Star Wars characters lined up for a special Science Fiction themed event including four Princess Leias and C3P0.

A procession of Stormtroopers was led through the streets by Darth Vader and Boba Fett from UK Garrison accompanied by the Black Knights Drum and Bugle Corp.

The horses stopped at several watering holes - the Greenwich Tavern, Ye Olde Rose and Crown, Richard I, The Greenwich Union - to take on essential supplies before a race to the finish at the Morden Arms. The Mike Wood and Adam Stakemire, both from Greenwich, galloped across the line in a zebra outfit.

After a stewards enquiry, the official winner was the horse from The Pelton Arms who crossed the line first.

Carly Dexter-Fry – Assistant Manager at the Greenwich Pelton Arms and front-end of the 2011 winning entry –also had tips for those hoping to take home the top prize next year:

1. “You have to trust your partner. The person at the back can’t see where they’re going at all, so they have to know you’ll lead them in the right direction. I was at the back for a while but I couldn’t deal with it.

2. “You do get seriously sweaty. Take all your layers off. Even though it’s only mid-December you should only be wearing a t-shirt.

3. “You’ll probably be drinking all the way round, so it’s good to work in a pub. You’ll have a good alcohol tolerance.

4. “There’s no need to do any training. I play football anyway though, which probably helped.

5. “On the morning of the race I just ate a banana, but you should probably have porridge – or a sugar lump or something.”

Comedian and actor Stephen Frost, known for his appearances in Blackadder, Whose Line Is It Anyway and Have I Got News for You, hosted the After Race Christmas Party from 2:30pm at The Greenwich Tavern, with appearances from 'The Star Wars Canteena Band', Madness tribute band ‘Toot’n’Skamen’, and cover band headliners ‘The Manzarek Doors’.

Mark Biddiss, organiser of London Pantomime Horse Race, said: “We’ve had a brilliant year and thanks so much to everyone who supported us.

“It’s obviously a very daft race but it puts smiles on people’s faces and most importantly we are racing thousands for Demelza Children’s Hospice.

“There’s obviously plenty of good causes but every pound really does go to them and they offer vital care for both parents and children.”

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