2020 Randox Health Grand National cancelled due to coronavirus

This year’s Randox Health Grand National Festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak which has swept the world.

The Jockey Club made the announcement on Monday evening following the government’s new public health guidelines which advised against non-essential public travel and social contact.

Jockey Club Racecourses, which manages Aintree, had been considering running the meeting, which includes the world’s most famous steeplechase, behind closed doors.

Sally 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.

“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 meeting was scheduled to take place from the 2nd April through to the 4th April, with the feature race positioned to be run on the final day of the Festival.

Grand National Day had already been sold out and will not be rearranged for another date. It was not practically possible to find another date with the National Hunt season concluding at the end of April.

Tiger Roll denied chance to win third straight National

The news is a huge blow to connections of Tiger Roll, who was bidding to win the race for a third straight renewal. No horse has ever been successful for three straight years, a record which will now go on.

It remains to be seen if Tiger Roll will remain in training and have a shot at the 2021 contest. The Irish horse is 10 years old so he is young enough to return next season.

Although no decision has been made about the Punchestown Festival next month, it is unlikely that the horse will feature again this season.

Racing is set to go on until the end of March behind closed doors for now. That decision could well be reviewed over the next few days as the number of positive cases of the virus increases.

Tiger Roll Grand National 2018

Jockey Davy Russell jumps the last fence on Tiger Roll on his way to winning the Grand National horse race on the final day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, northern England on April 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS @SCANPIX

Cost to industry will be huge

The loss of the Grand National is set to hit the industry hard. Around £300 million was anticipated to be staked on the race in the UK this year. The racecourse will need to issue refunds in the region of 120,000 spectators, who had purchased tickets for the three-day Festival.

Although health and safety is the main priority, the marathon contest is one of the highlights of the British sporting calendar for many. This iconic sporting contest is not the first major event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is unlikely to be the last to fall either.

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