The 2020 Grand National festival due to run between April 2 and 4 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Jockey Club have released a statement in the aftermath of Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier today, asking people to avoid mass gatherings.
Renowned as the world’s greatest steeplchase and the biggest betting event on the racing calendar, this year’s race had been due to see Tiger Roll bid to join Red Rum as the only three-timer winner.
A statement from the Jockey Club read: “Following the Government’s new public health guidance regarding avoiding social contact and stopping non-essential travel, and its statement that emergency services are withdrawn from supporting mass gatherings from tomorrow, the Jockey Club has decided that it is no longer appropriate to stage the event.
“Jockey Club Racecourses, which runs Aintree and several of the UK’s leading racecourses, had been assessing the feasibility of running the world’s most famous steeplechase behind closed doors with minimal staff on site, but the latest government information on the measures needed to contain the virus have led it to believe this is no longer a viable consideration.”
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Since 1839 the race has run 172 times, only missing three years of the First World War (1916-18), five years during World War Two (1941-45) and the disastrous voided race of 1993.
It was hoped the 40-horse, 30-fence, four-mile race – won last year by Tiger Roll – would be able to carry on behind closed doors.
But following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new advice during his press conference on Monday afternoon, that was deemed impossible.
Sandy Dudgeon , Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, 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.
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“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.
“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.”
The race is usually watched by a global TV audience of around 600 million viewers and last year over £250m was bet on the Grand National race alone.
The news comes as the Prime Minister recommending if people could work from home they do so.
He also advised that people should avoid going to the pub, restuarants or the theatre.
In the UK there has been 55 confirmed deaths because of coronavirus.
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