As COVID-19 continues to raise a national alarm through the United Kingdom, The Jockey Club which manages picturesque Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool has today announced that the world-famous Grand National canceled.
It’s the first cancellation of a major horse race due the coronavirus pandemic and it threatens to derail the entire jumps season.
Today it announced the three-day festival from Thursday, April 2 to Saturday, April 4 would not go ahead following the British government’s decision to ban mass gatherings as the National Health Service (NHS) looks to control the spread of the outbreak.
In a statement, Senior Steward Sandy Dudgeon of The Jockey Club said the Club was “working on a plan” to run the 2020 Grand National but took advice from the British Government to abandon the 2020 installment.
“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,” he said.
“The Randox Health Grand National Festival was canceled being 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.
“I know this is hugely disappointing news for the many people who work in our sport and the many millions who were looking forward to this year’s event, but very sadly these are exceptional times and this is the responsible thing to do.”
Not since World War II has the Grand National been forced to abandon. In 1993, the world-class jumps race was declared void after a false start failed to recall 30 of 39 horses in a never-seen-before event.
The people’s horse Tiger Roll was aiming to join rarefied air, as the Gordon Elliott-trained jumper was seeking to stand alongside Red Rum as the only three-time winner of the prodigious race.