Creepy-crawly racing has not been seen in the UK since 1994, when a louse beat a dung-beetle and a horsefly in a one-sided contest. Races between loathsome creatures were subsequently banned, as it seemed the outcome tended to lead to damage to the country.
However, with the retirement of former champion gastropod Gordon Brown, Labour are to run a one-off Hurdles event later this year and have recently opened their entry lists.
The first runners for the 2010 Hopeless Case Steeplechase include two millipedes, both from the same stable though with different training approaches.
Betting pundit John McCririck said, "we've seen a lot of interest from the punters on the millipede entries. At the moment the smart money is on the older of the two - its recent diet of bananas should give it the legs in the long run. But don't underestimate the other one either, it's historically had plenty of energy and is a good outsider at a Burlington for a dark-horse win. Even though it's a millipede, not a horse. Obviously."
Other entrants are yet to declare, but there is some interest from the bookmakers on a female Black Widow, and an outside chance of a possible late-entrant leech, bred from a long-running stable of successful parasites.
However, there are still questions over the expected entry of Ed Balls to the race. While not technically a member of the animal kingdom, Balls is expected to enter the Hopeless Case Steeplechase on a technicality, in that he's a spineless invertebrate that most people would like the chance to squash.