THOUSANDS of rubber ducks will battle it out down river in one of Swindon’s most anticipated aquatic races next week.

The annual Swindon Old Town Rotary Club duck race will return on Monday, with more than 10,000 contestants ready to float their way to victory at the Westcott Recreation Ground in Wotton Bassett Road.

As well as the main race at 3.30pm, families will be able to enjoy rides, a variety of stalls and even enter their pet into an RSPCA dog show from 11am.

In its 13th year, the event will be staged in aid of various charities including the Wessex Children’s Hospice, and the rotary club is hoping to match last year’s fundraising target of £15,000.

“The race is always great fun,” said Rotarian Bob Barrett. “It’s almost like a horse racing, people get really excited.

Except that they can’t tell which duck belongs to them, but they can tell if they are in the lead or not.

“And we have children’s rides, stalls and a dog show; it’s a fun day out for the whole family.”

He added: “We raised £15,000 last year and we are hoping to get as much this year. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the weather.”

The contest will kick off with the Drake Race, which is open to businesses only. It will be followed by the main event during which the rubber ducks will be unleashed into the water and make their way underneath Wootton Bassett Road to the finish line.

The owner of the winning duck will receive £1,000. The six runners-up will be handed £100. The £1 ducks are on sale up until the race. Those considering rigging the competition on the day, by giving their duckie a nudge along the stream, will be sorely disappointed.

“It’s just impossible to cheat at a duck race,” added Bob. “They all get tipped into the river and it flows its course. We will clear the river on Sunday to make sure the race is smooth.”

Last year the event, sponsored by Nationwide, supported Swindon Foodbank, CALM, Hop, Skip and Jump and the MS Therapy Centre among many other local groups.