SCHOOLCHILDREN at Peel Park Primary fancy their chances this weekend when their racing pigeon stands to net them £12,000.
Six-month-old Sparkle is set to wing her way over from France on Sunday in a 240-mile race organised by the Royal Pigeon Racing Association.
She has been entered into the first-past-the-post one-loft race on behalf of the school by her owner, Peel Park lollipop man Terry Slattery, 57.
And her quest to win has caused a real buzz among pupils who have been told Sparkle will be racing against one of the Queen's pigeons.
Mr Slattery said: "The children are thrilled to bits that Sparkle is taking part in such a momentous event. When she was just three months old she went away to be trained and she has done very well in practice races, coming 63rd out of 360 in her latest race."
Terry, who owns 70 pigeons in total, added: "The youngsters at the school have been able to watch the progress of Sparkle through a website for the race, and it seems that she has a good chance of winning first prize.
"The kids are so excited and Mrs Judith Williams, the headteacher, has been great at keeping them up-to-date with what Sparkle is up to. It should be a great day."
Peel Park is one of just 16 schools throughout the whole of the UK entering a pigeon, and, in a bid to get children interested in the sport, the RPRA is paying the £120 entrance fee.
Unlike normal pigeon racing, where the birds are released and fly back to individual lofts, 350 pigeons tagged with electronic chips will fly from St Malo on the French coast to a central 180 ft loft in Birtsmorton, Worcestershire. As each arrives at the loft, the chip sends a signal to a central computer.
As well as the Queen, another famous fancier to enter a pigeon in the race is former England football captain, Gerry Francis.