Will The Running Of The 150th Irish Grand National Go Ahead?

Will The Running Of The 150th Irish Grand National Go Ahead?
© PA
Horse racing in Ireland is one of very few spectator sports going ahead in Europe amid the Covid-19 crisis

As a stellar list of 97 entries were revealed for Ireland’s richest National Hunt race, the Boylesports Irish Grand National, doubts remained over whether the race will take place as scheduled on Easter Monday, April 13, at Fairyhouse in Co. Meath.

The Irish horse racing authorities stand alone at present with the continuation of both flat and jumps action, but without general public admission across the racetracks in the Republic of Ireland.

In an announcement made on Wednesday following a board meeting at Horse Racing Ireland, it was clearly argued that racing can be set apart from other sporting environments during the coronavirus crisis.



The chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland Brian Kavanagh said: “Racecourses by their nature offer opportunities for social distancing that few other workplaces can. Big open-air sites with very few people present and nobody on site if they are not involved.”

Under this instruction and continued monitoring, Irish racing continues and fixtures are to be held during daylight hours only, one meeting per day maximum and to allow for additional hydration they have even introduced an increased weights allowance for jockeys of 2lbs – which seems to be very welcome during a time that health considerations are so clearly paramount to all.

Should the current state of play remain without amendment this would mean the Irish Grand National, a race worth €500k, would take place behind closed doors. While that would be a huge blow to the local community and to the coffers of the racecourse itself, it would benefit the industry greatly.

Tiger Roll Still On A Hat-Trick

With Aintree’s Grand National already cancelled as the UK authorities have suspended racing full stop this could still offer an opportunity for Tiger Roll to win a National for a third year in a row. It wouldn’t have the same historic edge to it of course but with 11st 8lbs allotted to him in the current weights it couldn’t be ruled out that the O’Leary team at Gigginstown Stud would consider it as an option.

Gordon Elliott will have plenty of entries, including Tiger Roll and his recent Cheltenham Festival winner Milan Native who heads the betting with the sponsors Boylesports at 10/1 along with a former Cheltenham Festival winner from 2019, Any Second Now for trainer Ted Walsh. Tiger Roll is available at 14/1 at the time of writing, although whether he will line up and take his chance is far from clear.


RELATED: Click here to see all entries to the 2020 Irish Grand National


Willie Mullins will bid to win the race again with last year’s victor Burrows Saint, who remarkably was his first ever winner in the historic Easter feature race, despite saddling dozens of runners in it over the years.

General Manager at Fairyhouse, Peter Roe was optimistic that the meeting – which spans three full days of the Easter Holidays – would still get green light.



He said: “We hope to celebrate the 150th anniversary of this great race this year and will work in tandem with the HRI to ensure all guidelines set by the Irish Government are met”.

Racing behind closed doors and allowing such stellar events to still take place could be the savour of many small businesses and the self-employed in the racing industry and will no doubt keep some wheels on the road for many in the gambling sector too.

Whether it can continue as is currently set up in Ireland is hard to know or predict with any confidence but it’s a fascinating stance taken that will be continually monitored and perhaps replicated as other sports look for ways to continue to function safely and efficiently.

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