Sheep in Ireland usually wind up as hardy, handsome sweaters — or, if they're truly unlucky, as tasty lamb chops.

But for those few special Irish sheep willing to undergo advanced training, and who are fleet of hoof and have the proverbial  "eye of the tiger," there is another way of life — a way of being something of a "black sheep," of living on the wold side.

And so it was that Irish betting fans flocked to the annual "Sheep Racing Grand National" in Ireland this weekend. The five-race card drew a huge crowd to the race course at Leghowney outside Donegal Town.

The first-ever Sheep Racing meeting, which took place last year, drew a record attendance.

"Ewe wouldn't believe it if you didn't see it!' joked one lucky punter who said he'd won $100.

"I never knew sheep could sprint," he said, pocketing his winnings.

"I was fleeced!" said another who said his sheep was still wandering round the course.

Committee member John Cassidy said sheep racing was a great boost to the local economy.

"Numbers are up this year," he beamed.

“Sheep racing is not affected by the recession and unlike Galway and the Curragh the numbers this year have shown a large increase on last year.

“Some punters may get fleeced but the sheep handlers made sure there will be no distress to any of the runners.

“This has been a fun day for all the family with children’s races, sack races, digger lessons, sheep shearing and other activities provided by the hard working committee.”

And one thing's for sure. Nobody pulled the wool over his eyes!