THE GRAND NATIONAL, the world’s most famous and iconic National hunt Steeplechase was confirmed as cancelled on Monday with authorities citing the coronavirus outbreak as the reason. It was then revealed on Tuesday, just as we were going to press, that the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA), had cancelled all racing in Britain until the end of April, about the same time as it was revealed the Kentucky Derby was most likely to be rescehduled from May until the autumn. September currently appears the most likely date. Meanwhile, France has become the first major racing nation to suspend the sport after an extraordinary meeting between France Galop and Le Trot.
All meetings were cancelled from Tuesday until April 15, a period that covers a key section of Classic trials. The two governing bodies convened a special session of their two administrative councils on Monday, just 72 hours after moving all racing behind closed doors. The suspension comes against a background of emergency meetings between the government of President Emmanuel Macron with health and defence chiefs, with further measures to limit the movement of people under discussion. Similar emergency discussions took place across Europe on Monday. Less than two hours after the French decision, Germany’s Direktorium suspended all racing until after Easter weekend, meaning a blank fixture list until April 18.
The country’s governing body committed to weekly video media conferences to update the situation and said it would work on an adapted and condensed fixture list for any resumption, potentially behind closed doors. Belgium and Italy, the European country hit hardest by coronavirus to date, also called a halt to racing on Monday, while Jersey has been forced to abandon its traditional season opener at Les Landes on Easter Monday (April 13). It was also announced on Tuesday that jockey Joao Moreira, who had a strong book of rides, would not be in action next Saturday on the Dubai World Cup card.