Following the publication of the Government’s roadmap for ‘cautiously’ lifting lockdown restrictions over the coming months, consideration has been given as to whether it is both beneficial and appropriate to delay the 2021 Randox Grand National Festival.
A range of stakeholders have been consulted in the process of assessing impact of such a move, with the clear conclusion that the three-day event should remain in its scheduled slot, between Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th April 2021.
Dickon White, who runs the Randox Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse as The Jockey Club’s North West Regional Director, said:
“Since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday we’ve consulted with various stakeholders and weighed up the pros and cons of attempting to delay the Randox Grand National Festival to a time when the country may have moved into ‘Step Two’ of lockdown restrictions lifting.
“We’ve reviewed multiple aspects, including people being at home and available to watch the racing and showcase our sport to the maximum audience; the impact on other racing fixtures in the UK and Ireland and feasibility of any delay; and the impact on hundreds of participants across 21 races at Aintree and beyond.
“We’ve considered whether there is any financial upside for the sport when all parts of such a move are accounted for; whether it is responsible to cause such a rush on betting shops just as they open again with a pandemic ongoing or if the Government intended for this to be more gradual; and whether we would disappoint fans by creating clashes with other sports events.
“This has been a really difficult time for the retail and on-course betting industry and we very much hope that retail outlets will re-open on Monday 12th April, but like so much in this pandemic, this is far from certain at this stage. The Prime Minister has been clear that timings for lifting restrictions in England are best case and not guaranteed, while already we know outlets will not be open in Scotland.
“With timings fluid and several downsides of delay as well as some upsides that may or may not happen, there is not a solid enough basis to move one of the biggest racing fixtures in the calendar just six weeks out. Therefore, the three-day meeting will remain in its planned Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th April slot.
“It has been interesting to listen to views on this and we are always happy to do so. The Randox Grand National is the People’s Race and it is a shame that those wishing to have a flutter this year will be limited to online and mobile platforms, rather than being able to drop into the bookies. With the national vaccination programme underway, including using facilities at Aintree Racecourse, we very much hope our way of life can return in the fullest sense just as soon as possible.”