The Jockey Club has announced that, despite the UK betting sector’s demand for a change of dates to endorse the reopening of England’s betting shops on 12 April, the Randox Grand National will keep its timetable of 8-10 April.
UK operators, headed by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), advised the Jockey Club, owner of Aintree Racecourse, to move its Grand National weekend to a later April date, enabling the re-opening of England’s betting shops to benefit from the ‘biggest betting event’ racing.
Retaining present timetable
Nevertheless, noting that it had checked all variables in its determination of conditions, the Jockey Club decided to retain the present timetable of the Grand National as it could not promise all mitigation conditions should the festival be moved to a later date.
Dickon White, Jockey Club North-West Director, told the Racing Post that Aintree had taken into account the “financial, health and perception implications of changing dates, alongside the impact it would have on the fixture list of racing.”
In addition, the Jockey Club festival organiser reported that due to confusion existing as to whether the UK would move to phase 2 COVID restrictions by 12 April, which is also contingent on multiple infection rate and vaccination-led performance, it could not risk changing dates.
BGC dissatisfied with decision
The BGC released a statement expressing its dissatisfaction with the decision, which would have given £1 million in extra funds to the racing levy for UK racing.
Michael Dugher, BGC CEO, responded: “Whilst we of course respect the decision of the Jockey Club, this news is nonetheless a disappointing blow. Briefly delaying the race could have provided a much-needed boost to racing, to the high street and to millions of punters who support this great sport.
“Races are routinely rescheduled, including most recently because of bad weather. Of course, there is always a risk with any decision, but I regret that a ‘can do’ approach did not prevail in this instance.
“This decision will also surprise many people who understand the challenging financial climate racing currently faces.”