JOCKEYS may want to hang up their jodhpurs and riding hats for good as maggot racing has taken over from horses in the betting stakes.

Punters in Three Horseshoes Pub in The Common, Flackwell Heath, have been gathering around the big screen to watch little maggots squirm their way around a six-lane racetrack.

Publicans Barrie and June Butler have been practicing the popular sport for 23 years - and every time they put on a race they raise hundreds of pounds for charity.

Barrie, 41, said: "It's the commentary that makes it. We name the maggots after our customers and make jokes about jockeys falling off the maggots. They go anywhere - and tend to turn around and go backwards when they get to a point on the track named Beeches Brook."

The race track is about a foot long and has sticks the competitors must climb over before they reach the finish line.

The maggots - which Barrie and June get from a fisherman - take about 45 seconds to complete the race.

Every time an event takes place Barrie sets up a video camera on the track so the maggots' twists and turns are projected on the pub's big screen and four televisions.

Barrie's father built the track after the pub landlord spotted someone else practicing the sport in a campsite all those years ago.

He said: "I saw it and thought what a wonderful idea for raising money for charity."

The next maggot race starts around 8pm on Bank Holiday Monday when profits raised from bets placed on the little creatures will go to the Thomas Ball Children's Cancer Fund.