Grand National odds-on to be cancelled
The Randox Health Grand National at Aintree next month is unlikely to take place, according to the bookmakers’ odds, as one firm makes the race as short as 1/5* to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the Second World War, only once has the race not been officially run, and that was in 1993 when it was deemed void due to a false start.
Racing has just hosted its biggest four-day meeting of the season, the Cheltenham Festival. Many in the sport believe if that meeting had been scheduled to take place a week later, there is no way it would have been given the green light.
Unlike day-to-day meetings in the sport, the Grand National at Aintree features a huge crowd of spectators. Up to 70,000 people fill up the course on the Saturday for the big race, while around 150,000 attend the Merseyside venue across the three-day meeting.
With the number of positive cases of the virus expected to significantly rise over the next three weeks, it gives little hope for those praying that the world’s most famous steeplechase can survive this year.
Majority of sports now in lockdown
The majority of the major sports are now in lockdown around the world, however, racing appears to be standing alone at the moment.
Racecourse are set to host meetings behind closed doors later this week, something which has already been implemented in Scotland and Ireland. There will be no spectators at Kelso this afternoon as the Scottish government advised against large gatherings of more than 500 people.
The Grand National is not the only major sporting event scheduled in 2020 to be in doubt. Euro 2020 is expected to be postponed until 2021, while the Olympics is likely to be pushed back until later in the year.
Medical strain of Grand National would be huge
One of the big issues organisers of the Grand National will have is the medical assistance they will require to run the race. With 40 horses and jockeys participating over the bigger fences at Aintree, the race requires a larger number of ambulances and paramedics than a standard meeting.
Horse racing would most likely come under fire if the services of a large group of medical staff were being used just to keep the race on.
Even if the medical aid was hired from the private sector, with the strain being put on the health service, it may not be possible for Aintree to get clearance for such a move.
Tiger Roll could be denied hat-trick bid
A cancellation of the 2020 Randox Health Grand National could deny Tiger Roll the opportunity to complete a hat-trick of wins in the race.
Gordon Elliott’s runner, who was successful in 2018 and 2019, was on course to feature next month after a positive run in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Connections of the horse have yet to confirm if their runner will remain in training next season so he may not line up in 2021.
It would be a big shame for supporters of the horse as he was on the verge of making history at the Merseyside racecourse. For now, like many other sports, racing has to patiently wait for further updates from the government as to how they can operate during this global pandemic.
*Odds subject to change.
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:
Unfortunately, the 2020 Grand National has been cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. However, we will still be able to watch the event on the first Saturday in April this year, when the Virtual Grand National comes to our television screens.