Grand National falls victim as all UK racing cancelled

Tiger Roll was aiming for a third straight win in the Aintree showpiece.
Tiger Roll was aiming for a third straight win in the Aintree showpiece.

British racing has been suspended until the end of April due to fears around the coronavirus, the British Horseracing Authority has announced.

The sport had initially opted to try and continue behind closed doors, with meetings at Wetherby and Taunton on Tuesday. 

However, with the NHS coming under more and more strain, the decision has been taken to free up essential emergency services by cancelling everything completely, which will also ensure the safety of participants.

The news follows the decision to cancel the Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree on Monday evening, and the BHA’s Chief Executive Nick Rust stressed that it was the right action for the sport to take.  

He said: “This is a national emergency the like of which most of us have never seen before. We’re a sport that is proud of its connection to rural communities and to the local businesses that support our industry. But our first duty is to the health of the public, our customers and to racing industry participants and staff so we have decided to suspend racing following the government’s latest advice.

“Racing is a family and I know we will pull together over the coming days, weeks and months and support each other. By stopping racing, we can free up medical resources, doctors and ambulances, be they private sector or NHS, to assist in the national effort to fight this virus. And we can support racing industry participants and staff as they face up to the personal challenges ahead and care for their own families.

“There will be difficult months ahead for many of us. We need to focus now on ensuring that we can continue to look after our horses as the virus affects the thousands of participants and staff who dedicate their lives to caring for animals. We need to do what we can to support businesses inside and outside racing and the many people whose livelihoods depend upon this £4 billion industry.

“We are in constant contact with government which understands the very significant consequences of this decision for jobs and businesses. We will work with them to do our best to manage the impact.

“Racing leaders will keep today’s decision under constant review and endeavour to keep all customers, participants, staff and dependent businesses informed as the situation progresses.”

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The cancellation of the Grand National Festival will be a significant blow to both the city of Liverpool and the sport of racing as a whole, but The Jockey Club stressed that it was a necessary decision.

Sandy Dudgeon, Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, commented: "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."

Grand National News

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