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Coronavirus: Grand National cancelled

The Grand National has been cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Jockey Club, which owns Aintree racecourse, announced tonight (Monday, 16 March) that the 2020 Randox Health Grand National Festival (2 to 4 April) would not go ahead this year.

A statement from the Jockey Club said the decision was made that it is “no longer appropriate to stage the event” . This was following the latest government advice regarding avoiding social contact, stopping non-essential travel and the fact that emergency services are withdrawn from supporting mass gatherings as of tomorrow (Tuesday, 17 March).

“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,” said the statement.

“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, added the festival was just three weeks away and it was “very clear to us it will not be possible for the event to take place”.

Public health must come first,” he added. “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 today, the British Horseracing Authority announced all racing would take place behind closed doors with the intention for scheduled meetings to take place “wherever possible”. However it warned that the situation is “very fluid” and that cancellations may happen.

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