The Randox Health Grand National at Aintree has been cancelled amid fears that the Coronavirus could put the country into lockdown.
Hours after the British Horseracing Authority announced that all British racing would be taking place behind closed doors, The Jockey Club released their statement:
Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, Sandy Dudgeon said:
“The Randox Health Grand National Festival was just three weeks away and it’s very clear to us it will not be possible for the event to take place. Public health must come first.
“We were working on a plan to stage the Grand National behind closed doors given its importance to the racing industry and beyond, but following the new Government measures confirmed this evening to help to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, this is not a viable option.”
The general public are being encouraged by the government to avoid “non-essential travel”. We are also advised to stay away from pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues.
Aintree and The Jockey Club saw this statement as far too serious and rather than holding the meeting behind closed doors, they have opted to cancel it.
The Scottish government announced that yesterday’s meeting at Kelso would be the first to deny public access to a race meeting. Now the British Government’s announcement last night has made this clearer than any organisation.
This will be the first time since World War Two that the Grand National will have been cancelled ahead of the three-day meeting. The race was declared void in 1993, but all other races were run.
It must be hard one to take if you are Gordon Elliott or in the Tiger Roll camp, as history could well have been made this year.
After back-to-back wins in the race, he had already emulated the true racing great in Red Rum, and was trying to go one better.
Here’s a reminder of Tiger Roll’s win from last year:
"Very sadly these are exceptional times and this is the responsible thing to do."
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 16, 2020
Another contender was Robert Walford’s stable star, Walk In The Mill who was fourth in the race last year. This horse has won the last two runnings of the Becher Chase, most recently here.