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UK bookmakers call for Grand National delay until betting shops reopen

grand national

“The Grand National is the biggest betting race of the year. It’s worth 10 times more than the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is the second biggest, in turnover.”

Some bookmakers and trainers are looking for a delay to this year’s Grand National at Aintree until betting shops are allowed back open under the UK Government’s Covid-19 roadmap announced on Monday.

Tiger Roll goes for a third consecutive Grand National this year, with the race on the calendar for Saturday, April 10. But UK betting shops won’t reopen until two days later.

grand national

Grand National.

If the move gets approval, it could potentially deliver a £1m boost to horse racing in the UK.

The National is by far the biggest betting race of the year, worth an estimated £300million in turnover.

The switch has received support from many in the horse racing world.

Ladbrokes Coral PR director Simon Clare says that the Grand National should be delayed until betting shops are allowed open again.

grand national

“Now we’ve seen the dates for the Government road map – which are provisional – and the fact that there is potential for betting shops to open on 12 April, the obvious issue is the Grand National,” Clare said.

“It is the biggest betting race of the year – the race which millions of people enjoy as a national celebration. It was lost to the pandemic in 2020, and would take place two days before the shops open this year.

“It is the one race where betting shops provide a big service. There are a lot of once-a-year punters who want to come and have a bet on the big race.

“There’s the celebratory aspect of the Grand National. It’s the showcase for racing and for betting – so we’d love to see it happen.”



However, while many bookmakers are pushing for the date to be delayed,  the PR man is delighted that betting shops can resume business from April 12, regardless of when the Grand National takes place.

“Just shops reopening is great – that’s the most important thing,” Clare added.

“The Grand National is the biggest betting race of the year. It’s worth 10 times more than the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is the second biggest, in turnover.

“Obviously, racing has done an amazing job being flexible during the pandemic. It’s been an amazing effort.

“It may not be possible – but if it can be done, it would be fantastic.”

uk betting shops

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Switching the Grand National to April 17 would also provide trainers with an extra week between the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree.

Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is fully supportive of a delay to this year’s Grand National.

The Welsh-born trainer trains the top weight for this year’s race, Bristol De Mai.

“It can’t do any harm at all, can it? I think it would give the whole thing a bit of life,” Twiston-Davies said.

“In fact, I think it’s a very good idea and, yes, I think it’s something they should do.”

Tony Calvin.

However, racing journalist Tony Calvin has reservations about the idea – with a particular concern on how horse racing will look to the wider public if they push this idea too much.

“Totally accept need to get the sport’s finances rolling again and imagine this has been privately discussed, but this, ‘let’s delay Grand National so the shops are open’ needs to be questioned, not simply reported on,” Calvin tweeted.

“The idea that it would be a good look for racing and betting to have shops full and/or resulting queues – while we would still be about 2 months away from a possible end to lockdown and immediately after any initial easing – on National day is surely deeply questionable.

“After Cheltenham last year, the PR perception risks are as huge as they are predictable.

“Surely this is glaringly obvious, and to suggest it now (publicly) is counterproductive at very least?

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