THE NURSERY rhyme may have told of only one piglet running all the way home, but at Bishopstone’s annual pig race it proved to be several pigs bringing home the bacon for delighted punters.

The Royal Oak hosted the animal racing event on Sunday, with hundreds of delighted spectators turning out to watch the eight porcine athletes scamper down a gate-lined course after a pig herd rattling a bucket of feed.

More than £600 was bet on the first race alone, with the profits going to charities Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Swindon and North Wiltshire Deaf Children’s Society. Cheery porker The Whole Hog crossed the finish line first in race number one, at odds of around 6/1.

Clive Hill of Bishopstone’s Eastbrook Farm had been training the weaner pigs for the past three weeks to follow the sound of a rattling food bucket. The young animals, each Large White-Saddleback crosses and weighing around 25kg, had been individually selected at eight weeks.

“We want to try and make it so the pigs are as different as possible. If we get lots of similarly coloured pigs it gets very confusing,” said Clive.

The race is now in its eighth year and even the organisers describe it as silly. It was set up in 2012 by Tim Finney, landlord at the Royal Oak, for Bishopstone’s celebrations of the Queen’s jubilee.

Helen Browning, who runs the Royal Oak with partner Tim and runs her own successful meat business from Eastbrook Farm, said: “It’s just extraordinary that so many people want to come to see 10 pigs wander down the road. In 2012, the village was looking for something fun to do rather than the usual street party. Tim had this idea that we might do some pig racing.

“I thought the pigs would hate it. But, actually, they think it’s ball.

“The pigs seem to have a whale of a time. They seem to love all the attention. They really enjoy being the centre of attention and, after one race, they’re almost gagging to go again.

“People are so attracted to pigs. They come from miles around for this very silly exercise. It’s a wonderfully eccentric day out.”

Sunday’s event came on the same day as scores of families across the country visited local farms for Open Farm Sunday, a campaign that aims to show people where their food comes from.

Helen, chief executive of organic food charity the Soil Association, said events like Open Farm Sunday or the pig race helped connect people with farming: “I think the more people understand about how food is produced and feel comfortable about what we’re doing out in the countryside, that’s got to be a good thing.”