UK – The Grand National; a National Hunt horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, England, has been cancelled amid coronavirus outbreak concerns, meaning that all sportsbooks have been forced to suspend betting for the event, which has been running since 1839.
The race, which was due to take place on the 4th April 2020, is watched by an estimated 600 million people, in over 140 countries, ‘has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic’.
According to the UK government, it is no longer safe to attend mass gatherings such as sporting events, and despite calls to hold the race ‘behind closed doors’ the Jockey Club; the largest commercial horse racing organisation in the United Kingdom, said that ‘it is no longer appropriate to stage the event’ and that it was ‘no longer a viable consideration’.
Senior steward of The Jockey Club Sandy Dudgeon commented on the decision:
“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.”
Last year’s winner Tiger Roll was favourite to win this year’s Grand National sponsored by Randox Health; a company in the in vitro diagnostics industry, developing diagnostic solutions for hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, with second to fifth favourites following: Any Second Now, Burrows Saint, Definitly Red and Kimberlite Candy.
Reportedly, there could be as many as fifty thousand cases of coronavirus in the UK. It is not yet clear whether betting will resume on the event or if it will take place at all this year.