With British horse racing set to move “behind closed doors” later this week, the likelihood of the 2020 Randox Health Grand National being held in front of an empty Aintree racecourse seems pretty high as things stand. Indeed while the three-day meeting – which takes place between 2nd and 4th April 2020 – may still go ahead as planned, the latest announcement by the BHA makes it clear that things certainly won’t be as normal.
The horse-racing governing body has stated that all racing will likely take place behind closed doors until the end of March due to the coronavirus pandemic and there remains a high possibility that this measure will be extended should the situation not improve.
Clearly any further decisions will be made by the BHA in due course although the government is also finding itself under increasing pressure to implement emergency measures, these over-ruling any future decisions by the BHA.
The Cheltenham Festival took place as scheduled earlier this month, however fixtures in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland have since been closed to the general public and this is expected to remain the situation until the end of the month at the earliest.
The statement released by the BHA confirmed their plans to follow suit.
“Racing industry leaders are preparing to hold race meetings without spectators and to ensure that the competitors and participants attending only do so under strict conditions.
“The sport’s tripartite leadership, including racecourses, participants and the governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, will tomorrow discuss an approach recommended by the industry’s COVID 19 group.
“It is likely to mean that racing moves behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March. Racing’s fixture list will also be considered.
“With race meetings due to happen every day, the intention is to agree a programme that is sustainable in the light of possible staff absences, including in critical roles, which protects industry staff and supports the wider effort to free up critical public services.”