ORGANISERS of a national sporting event are hoping it can still go ahead in County Durham next month, despite the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

The All England Whippet Derby is due to take place in Newton Aycliffe over the Easter weekend on April 14 and 15.

But the fields at the Oak Leaf Sports Complex are currently out of bounds because of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Alan Courtney, deputy leader of Great Aycliffe Town Council, said: "We're expecting people from all over Great Britain, Ireland and even the United States.

"I'm told that the response to it in the whippet world is the best they've ever had."

The event has received £500 in sponsorship from John Upex Electricals, in partnership with the town council, and organisers have worked hard to attract the event to the region.

Coun Courtney added: "If there's no more cases reported after today then we'll be in with a chance of staging it.