Racing figures last night backed moves to switch the Grand National to April 12 – when betting shops are free to reopen their doors.
The Randox-sponsored Aintree marathon is scheduled to take place on April 10.
That’s two days before non-essential retail – including the High Street bookies – are allowed to reopen for business under step two of Prime Minister Boris Johnson ’s roadmap to ease coronavirus restrictions.
Putting the world’s greatest steeplechase back by 48 hours will give once-a-year punters the chance to visit the bookies and bet on a race that is a National institution.
And it will also raise much-needed revenue for a sport badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Nicholls, the 11-time champion jumps trainer who saddled Neptune Collonges to Aintree glory in 2012, said: “As long as there are protocols in place that keep punters safe, I think it’s an excellent idea.
“The National is the most famous race in the world and it’s watched by millions.
“If moving it gives betting shop punters the chance to bet on the race – and the sport benefits as a result – then I’m all for it.”
National heroes Lucinda Russell and Kim Bailey were also in favour changing the date.
Russell, successful with One For Arthur 2017, said: “The Grand National is one of the biggest betting events in the world and it's very important money goes back into racing.”
The Bailey-saddled Mr Frisk triumphed in 1990 and the Gloucestershire trainer added: “The revenue from betting is huge for the sport, we need to utilise the shops for the National.”
Coral PR Director Simon Clare said: “Our betting shops have been operating since last June with a full range of COVID-19 health and safety measures, and we are confident we can deliver a fantastic – safe – Grand National day to remember,” he said.
“Now is a golden opportunity for the British Horseracing Authority and [Aintree owner] the Jockey Club to provide a massive boost – and a seven-figure sum – to racing at a time it needs it most.”
The British Horseracing Authority and the Jockey Club declined to comment.
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