AN estimated 13,000 people visited Sandhurst Donkey Derby on Bank Holiday Monday, making it a record-breaking success.

It was the 37th running of the popular family event and organisers say it was the biggest and best yet.

The derby was held in the Bull and Butcher field on Yorktown Road and was opened by the Mayor of Sandhurst, Jean Bettison.

She said: "It was a wonderful day and the weather couldn't have been better. I believe we had a record number of people."

Mrs Bettison and Cllr Diana Pidgeon judged the races, with Cllr Paul Bettison as the race starter.

Mrs Pidgeon said: "It went tremendously well — an absolute roaring success. All the children had a great time. We did have a fall in the last race but hopefully the girl wasn't badly hurt.

"The donkeys were all going as fast as we have ever seen before. I want to really congratulate the Catholic Church on such a lovely day."

The Golden Jubilee Champion Jockey cup was awarded to Grace Collister from Sandhurst, who took home a shield and rosette.

Some of the charities benefiting from the event included local scout groups, the Catholic men's group and the lifeboat association.

The total amount raised is yet to be announced.

Chairman of the organising committee, Andy Nevin, said: "Our first Donkey Derby was run in the mid-1960s. Numbers attending that first event were just a few hundred and we have now recorded 10,000 in recent years.

"Over the years it has seen many changes. We had a wide range of entertainment on the day, but the donkey races were the focal point of the event and remain very similar to that first year.

"We have made a lot of effort to preserve the atmosphere of a traditional fun day out for the whole family."

There was also a hotly contested race series in which local pubs compete in buggies — called ‘sulkies' — for the Taverners Trophy, which was won by Sandhurst Social Club.

Highlights of the day included a funfair, a variety of stalls, bouncy castles, rides and entertainment from the Fiesta Steel Band.