Hamsters and gerbils on the ball for new Barnsley races

26 July 2012

They might be small in stature but the latest creatures to entertain crowds in Barnsley are on the ball when it comes to racing.

For hamsters and gerbils’ love of running inside exercise balls is being used to power miniature cars in new races at Cannon Hall Farm, Cawthorne.

Organisers think it is the first time such races have been run in the region and hope they will prove a hit with crowds over the school holidays.

The attraction already holds popular sheep and ferret races and also recently launched goat racing, but hamsters and gerbils are by far the smallest animals to join the fun.

Director Robert Nicholson said:  “Visitors know that our races are a bit different, but might be surprised to hear that hamsters and gerbils are taking to the track in little cars. Each car is powered by an exercise ball so the creature that can run the fastest inside its ball will win. They go at their own pace, which adds to the drama and excitement, and, so they don’t get tired, each hamster or gerbil will take part in no more than one race a day.” 

Four hamsters or gerbils sporting different colours will line up for each race and will go along a course adapted from the farm’s existing ferret racing track. In keeping with a motor racing theme, the animals will race under names including ‘Rodent Barrichello’, ‘Michael ‘Chewmacher’ and ‘Jenson Button-nose’.

There will be a live commentary and a ‘bookies’ kiosk where visitors can choose a hamster to support and win prizes.

Sheep racing on a Grand National-style course, complete with jumps, has become a big hit at Cannon Hall Farm and now Anglo Nubian goats born and bred there have also been trained to race on the course.

Hamster and gerbil races will be run at 12.30pm and 2.30pm every day from August 1st to August 30th.

Sheep racing takes place from now until August 30th on the hour, from noon to 4pm, while ferret racing runs on the half hour, from 10.30am to 4.30pm, also until August 30th. Goat racing will take place once a day throughout August.

Other daily events for the holidays include tractor and trailer rides, birds of prey displays and children’s activities to celebrate the Olympics.

Cannon Hall Farm has a range of children’s play facilities and a small animal petting area in addition to its farmyard and roundhouse, plus tea rooms, a farm shop and delicatessen.    

For more information about the farm call 01226 790427 or visit www.cannonhallfarm.co.uk


Attached picture shows one of the racing hamsters.

For further pictures, filming, or interviews please contact Robert Nicholson on 01226 790427 to arrange (animals/track etc will in place from Friday July 27th). 

For hundreds of years Cannon Hall Farm was home farm to the Cannon Hall Estate.The estate was sold by the Spencer Stanhope family in 1957 when Robert Nicholson’s grandfather Charles Nicholson paid £7,100 for land and buildings.   Around the same time the hall itself was bought by Barnsley Council and turned into a museum.

Robert’s father Roger took over the farm when Charles died and, from the 1980s, it was developed for visitors.  Roger and wife Cynthia are still involved in the business, along with Robert and other sons Richard and David. The working farm keeps a range of animals including cattle, pigs, donkeys, goats and llamas and baby animals are born all year round. 

Further media enquiries: Deborah Wain on 07903 466228 or at deborah@capitalbmedia.co.uk
Additional media contact:  Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07792 764891 or at kate@capitalmedia.co.uk


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