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Grand National Brexit threat recedes following departure date delay

The United Kingdom has agreed terms with the European Union which paves the way for Brexit to be delayed until April 12th at the very earliest. As such, any fears that it may have affected the 2019 Grand National have been allayed and the likelihood of any disruption lessened.

It was feared that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit would have caused major disruption to the free movement of race horses, this a cause for concern for the trainers of the 37 Irish-based horses left in the bidding for this year’s race. Should this nightmare scenario come to fruition, it would leave a severely depleted field of runners including the absence of 2018 winner Tiger Roll.

Following further negotiations between Theresa May and the EU, the path is clear for parliament to vote on delaying Brexit until May 23rd. If parliament decides not to adopt this approach, then the UK would leave with no deal in place on April 12th.

A spokesman for the BHA said: “Regarding the extension of Article 50, we remain prepared for all scenarios, including no deal, and encourage participants to refer to the Brexit section of the BHA website to find out more about the preparations they can take for all negotiation outcomes. 

“It’s important any withdrawal deal reflects the priorities of both racing and breeding, and allows free horse movement to continue during a transition period while a long-term arrangement with the EU can be agreed. We remain in contact with both Defra and DCMS on a daily basis on Brexit matters.”

Current arrangements dictate that racehorses are able to travel freely between France, Ireland and the UK in what is known as a Tripartite Agreement. Nevertheless once the UK has left the European Union, this arrangement would cease to exist and there would doubtless be delays and logistical challenges as well as barriers to free movement.