It’s official. The Randox Health Grand National Festival 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. The announcement was made by the Jockey Club on Monday 16th March.
The Press Release Reads As Follows:
Following the Government’s new public health guidance regarding avoiding social contact and stopping non-essential travel, and its statement that emergency services are withdrawn from supporting mass gatherings from tomorrow, the Jockey Club has decided that it is no longer appropriate to stage the event.
Jockey Club Racecourses, which runs Aintree and several of the UK’s leading racecourses, had been assessing the feasibility of running the world’s most famous Steeplechase behind closed doors with minimal staff on site, but the latest government information on the measures needed to contain the virus have led it to believe this is no longer a viable consideration.
Sandy Dudgeon, Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, said:
“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.”
Please be assured that Aintree Racecourse operates a full refund policy in the event of any raceday not taking place. Refunds will be automatically processed within 14 working days. If you’ve booked hospitality, our team will be in touch shortly.
The Covid-19 strain of the virus is attacking almost every aspect of normal day-to-day living. It was inevitable that the 2020 Grand National would be the next to come under pressure. Unfortunately due to the non-availability of emergency services, the Jockey Club had no choice but to cancel the event.
So far there hasn’t been any mention of an alternative date to hold the festival. The idea to substitute the Becher Chase in December for the race is one suggestion. The ground would be reasonably similar and the fences will already be ready.
Alternatively, the race could be held later in April if the virus has been contained and sporting activities return to normal.
Irish Grand National 2020
Racing action in Ireland continues, despite the coronavirus, but behind closed doors. The Irish Grand National also looks like it may still go ahead on Monday 13th April – Easter Monday. Held at Fairyhouse every year, this year’s festival is still being promoted and tickets to attend are still on sale.
Burrows Saint won the race for Willie Mullins last year. With no postponement date in the calendar for the Aintree Grand National, could we see some of those runners heading across the pond for a run at Fairyhouse? The entry deadline has not yet passed so there are no available runners or betting markets. However, as soon as the entries become available we will let you know!
Similar to Aintree, the race is one of the most prestigious in Ireland. It is a handicap chase of 3m 5f, run right-handed and has 24 fences to be jumped. The race finishes with a run-in of around three furlongs, going slightly uphill. It is a Grade A race with the most prize money of any jumps race in its home country – €500,000 in total, with €270,000 going to winning connections.
The potential runners are weighted the same way and the top weight that can be allocated is generally 11 stone 10 pounds. Unlike the UK, in the Irish Grand National 2020, this can be increased at the handicapper’s discretion, depending on the horses entered into the race.
So in the absence of Aintree, all eyes will now be on Fairyhouse!