Postponing the Grand National a difficult choice – Richard Newland

Last Updated 2 weeks ago | Commercial content | 18+

Will the Grand National 2020 be postponed? Grand National-winning trainer Dr Richard Newland says any decision to postpone racing could become a tough one to reverse.

As the sporting world continues to react to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, racing in England is in consistent dialogue with the UK government about the way forward.

There’s an increasing chance that racing will go ‘behind closed doors’ in the coming days but an all-out postponement is ill-advised, according to Dr Newland.

Grand National Festival

Grand National Festival – Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool, Britain – April 13, 2018 Jester Jet ridden by Robert Dunne (R) wins the 13:45 Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff @SCANPIX

Action may continue in isolation

Racing in Ireland has already moved to a behind-closed-doors approach, with Horse Racing Ireland confirming that will be the position until the end of this month. Scotland has followed suit and it appears likely England and Wales will be next.

Aintree’s Grand National Festival, scheduled from April 2nd-4th, is under threat, with the increasing likelihood the meeting will be behind closed doors at best.

Dr Newland trained Pineau De Re to win the National in 2014 and is a former GP who is now chairman of a private healthcare business. He said: “The whole thing is very difficult and once you start doing postponements and putting things off it’s very hard to restart so it’s hard to say if that would be the right approach for racing.”

Re-starting will be a problem

The British Horseracing Authority are in constant assessment of the situation, with Saturday’s Midlands National meeting at Uttoxeter going ahead as planned.

A full cessation of racing would, adds Newland, lead to an increasingly uncertain future.

“If you could shut down racing for, say, three weeks and that would guarantee everything would be fine then perhaps you could consider that, but I suspect if that happened you’d end up having to be off for a lot longer than that original time frame,” he added.

Authorities on the ball

Racing’s Covid-19 industry steering group are monitoring all developments as they happen and they remain in regular dialogue with government bodies as racing seeks to place welfare, human and equine, to the fore.

“British racing continues to be in close contact with the UK government and has been following their advice to continue with business as usual, subject to public health guidance,” said a statement on Friday.

“We are aware of the decisions taken by a number of sports today to suspend fixtures in advance of any government decision coming into effect. Racing’s leaders are monitoring the situation daily and are currently considering a range of options in this rapidly developing situation. Contingency plans are ready as required.”

The situation regarding Aintree and the 2020 Randox Health Grand National is likely to become much clearer in the coming days.

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:

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