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England reindeer race a 'roaring success'

Dec. 17, 2011 at 4:27 PM

SURREY, England, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Reindeer didn't fly but displayed impressive speed at a racecourse in Surrey, England, and a spokeswoman called the first reindeer derby a "roaring success."

The reindeer -- named, of course, for Santa's helpers -- raced Friday night at Kempton Park Racecourse as part of the Winter Festival, sponsored by off-track betting company William Hill, the Daily Mail reported.

Dasher crossed the finish line first and took the prize -- a trophy filled with carrots.

Bettors placed wagers and cheered on their favorite reindeer.

"This has proved a roaring success with punters across the land as the festive season continues," said Kate Miller, a spokeswoman for William Hill. "December can be an inclement month weather-wise, with many race meetings lost to the elements. Reindeer racing could prove a lifeline for race-starved punters in the future."

Father Christmas served as official race starter, while a team of elves cheered.

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