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Grand National is Cancelled as All UK Horse Racing is Suspended Until the End of April

Horse and TetherIt’s the news that all horse racing fans were dreading, but probably expecting: the BHA has announced that all UK racing will be suspended until the end of April at the earliest.

It means that the Grand National, scheduled to take place at Aintree on April 4, will now be cancelled indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday March 18, the government announced a raft of plans to combat the spread of COVID-19, and these included an advised ban on mass gatherings and social functions – a result of which the Jockey Club has confirmed they deem it ‘no longer appropriate’ to stage the National.

It was also confirmed that staging the race behind closed doors – a Plan B that was reportedly being worked on by organisers – is also off the table due to the medical resources required to make that happen.

The Jockey Club’s senior steward, Sandy Dudgeon, said:

“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.”

Some 60,000 people would have crammed into Aintree to watch the showpiece occasion in addition to a televised audience in excess of 500 million people. They would have been hoping to see Tiger Roll emulate the great Red Rum by winning three editions of the Grand National, while simultaneously looking to make history by becoming the first horse to win three in a row.

This will be another huge blow for the betting industry, with £300 million wagered annually on the race – roughly 1% of all racing bets placed in the year.

Racing the Latest Casualty of COVID-19 Cancellations

COVID-19 Graphic

Originally, the BHA had planned to keep racing on the go by moving meetings behind closed doors on UK soil.

That was the plan for approximately 48 hours, anyway, until the government moved the goalposts and advised against even low-key sporting events being held.

And so the BHA has announced that all racing will be suspended as of Wednesday March 18, with a possible return date of late April mooted. However, that will remain under constant review as the situation unfolds.

The BHA board had been consulting with a number of professionals, including medical advisers, and it had been their opinion that racing could go ahead behind closed doors – until the government’s intervention.

Nick Rust, the chief executive of the BHA, said:

“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.”

A full list of the meetings affected are shown in the table below, this is subject to change.

Date Jumps Meetings Flat Meetings
Wed 18th March Haydock Ludlow
Thu 19th March Chepstow Huntingdon
Fri 20th March Musselburgh Newbury Lingfield Newcastle
Sat 21st March Bangor Kelso Lingfield Southwell
Sun 22nd March Carlisle Exeter
Mon 23rd March Wincanton Lingfield Wolverhampton
Tue 24th March Hereford Hexham Southwell
Wed 25th March Market Rasen Newcastle Kempton Southwell
Thu 26th March Ffos Las Warwick Lingfield Wolverhampton
Fri 27th March Fontwell Wetherby Lingfield Newcastle
Sat 28th March Stratford Uttoxeter Doncaster Kempton
Sun 29th March Ascot Doncaster
Mon 30th March Ludlow Bath Newcastle
Tue 31st March Southwell Lingfield Musselburgh
Wed 1st April Market Rasen Wincanton Lingfield Wolverhampton
Thu 2nd April Aintree Taunton Chelmsford Southwell
Fri 3rd April Aintree Sedgefield Kempton Leicester
Sat 4th April Aintree Chepstow Lingfield Wolverhampton
Sun 5th April Ffos Las Plumpton
Mon 6th April Kelso Redcar Windsor
Tue 7th April Exeter Southwell Pontefract
Wed 8th April Catterick Kempton
Nottingham Wolverhampton
Thu 9th April Hereford Wetherby Bath Chelmsford
Fri 10th April Chelmsford Lingfield
Sat 11th April Carlisle Haydock Kempton Musselburgh
Newton Abbot Wolverhampton
Sun 12th April Ffos Las Market Rasen Southwell
Mon 13th April Chepstow Fakenham Redcar Wolverhampton
Huntingdon Plumpton
Tue 14th April Warwick Lingfield Newmarket
Wed 15th April Cheltenham Beverley Kempton
Thu 16th April Cheltenham Newcastle Newmarket
Fri 17th April Ayr Exeter Bath Newbury
Sat 18th April Ayr Bangor Brighton Newbury
Nottingham Thirsk
Sun 19th April Stratford Wincanton
Mon 20th April Hexham Kempton Pontefract Windsor
Newton Abbot
Tue 21st April Ludlow Sedgefield Yarmouth Wolverhampton
Wed 22nd April Perth Taunton Catterick Epsom
Thu 23rd April Exeter Perth Beverley Chelmsford
Fri 24th April Chepstow Perth Doncaster Sandown
Sat 25th April Sandown Doncaster Haydock
Leicester Ripon
Sun 26th April Salisbury Wetherby
Mon 27th April Ayr Lingfield
Southwell Thirsk
Tue 28th April Ayr Brighton
Yarmouth Lingfield
Wed 29th April Ascot Brighton
Chelmsford Pontefract
Thursday 30th April Chelmsford Musselburgh
Redcar Southwell