In light of widespread concerns relating to the coronavirus outbreak, UK racing has confirmed that the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree Racecourse has been cancelled.
Jockey Club Racecourses, which owns Aintree, confirmed that the three-day event will not take place next month after new government measures announced yesterday emphasised that the UK should ‘avoid non-essential contact and unnecessary travel’.
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.”
Earlier this week, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) revealed that it was ramping up preparations to move the sport behind closed doors.
Commenting on the plans, BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust concluded: “Racing has worked hard to look after our customers and our staff by following the government’s guidance and taking proportionate action.
“We will agree on plans to limit attendance to participants and staff only at race meetings from this week and put in place the contingency plans developed by the industry.”