Grand National In Doubt Due To Coronavirus
The outbreak of coronavirus in the UK has raised the question about whether the Grand National can take place on April 4 as planned.
There were some concerns leading into the Cheltenham Festival that the biggest meeting on the National Hunt calendar could be under threat. However, racing was allowed to go ahead at Prestbury Park, including this afternoon on Gold Cup Day.
With the Grand National now just three weeks away, the number of confirmed cases and deaths are expected to raise quite significantly before then.
Other countries around the world have closed schools and universities, while mass gatherings of over 500 people have been postponed in many nations around the world.
Racing in Ireland is set to take place behind closed doors from Monday and it would be no surprise if the UK followed suit.
Sporting Events Fall Across The World
The big news earlier today was the Premier League and English Football League both announcing that football across their leagues is suspended until at least April 3.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta revealed last night that he had tested positive for the virus. A statement which may have prompted the Premier League’s decision this morning.
The Champions League and Europa League, among other domestic leagues in Europe, have also been put on hold until further notice.
Elsewhere in the sporting world, England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka has been cancelled, the start of the F1 season has been delayed, while the Players Championship in golf will not take place.
What options do the organisers have?
It would not be the first time the Grand National has been cancelled if it is not allowed to go ahead next month. In 1993 the race was deemed void due to a false start where 30 of the 39 runners carried on around the course.
In 1997 the race was moved to the following Monday due to an IRA bomb threat at the course on the day of the initially scheduled contest.
The National Hunt season runs all the way through to April 25. If the race could not take place on April 4 this year, they still would have a three-week period to reschedule before the campaign ends.
There is also the possibility of the first ever summer Grand National. That is probably the least favourable option due to the drying ground conditions in the summer. Unless there was plenty of rain, the going is likely to be too firm and dangerous for the jumpers.
Arguably the most likely scenario is for the Grand National to take place behind closed doors. Cameras may be allowed onto the course to record the world’s most famous steeplechase, but the 70,000 spectators, which usually come through the turnstiles, may not be permitted.
A race without the crowd to cheer on the 40 runners would be a big blow as the atmosphere the spectators create on the day is a huge part of what makes the Grand National so special. If it came down to that option or no race, many in the racing world would most likely vote for the former.
If you don’t feel safe to attend the event, or the Aintree Grand National is planned to go ahead without the crowds, make sure you’re ready to watch from home on desktop or mobile. See your Grand National Live Streaming Options here: