Grand National maintains its dates against betting’s reopening interests 

By | February 26, 2021

The Jockey Club has confirmed that the Randox Grand National will maintain its schedule of April 8-10 despite the UK betting sector’s appeal for a change of dates to support the reopening of England’s betting shops on 12 April.

Led by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), UK operators had urged the Jockey Club, owner of Aintree Racecourse, to delay its Grand National weekend to a later April date, allowing England’s re-opening betting shops to benefit from ‘racing’s biggest betting event’. 

However, stating that it had reviewed all factors in its assessment of conditions, the Jockey Club has opted to maintain the Grand National’s existing schedule, as it cannot guarantee all mitigating circumstances should the festival be moved to a later date.

Dickon White, North-West Director of the Jockey Club stated to the Racing Post, that Aintree had considered the “financial, health and perception implications of changing dates, alongside the impact it would have on racing’s fixture list”.

Furthermore, festival organiser the Jockey Club stated that it could not risk moving dates, due to uncertainty remaining as to whether the UK will move onto phase-2 COVID restrictions by 12 April – which is still dependent on multiple infection rate and vaccination led outcomes.

The BGC issued a statement detailing its disappointment at the decision, which would have seen UK racing benefit from £1 million in additional funding to the racing levy.

BGC CEO Michael Dugher 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.”