Bookmaker News – Grand National cancellation a further hammer blow

Grand National cancellation sees bookmaker shares plummet again

Bookmaker News

The Randox Health Grand National, a worldwide spectacle, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The world’s famous steeplechase, run over 4m4f across Aintree’s fearsome and unique fences, will now not take place in 2020.

Jockey Club Racecourses, which owns Aintree, had been considering plans to stage the race behind closed doors – Irish racing is already operating under those conditions until at least the end of March and the UK was poised to follow suit – but UK government advice is now to avoid non-essential contact and unnecessary travel.

Racing in the UK has now been cancelled until at least May but the Aintree executive had already decided it would simply not be practical to police the amount of staff, jockeys, trainers and media required to stage the Grand National meeting, which would have also tied up medical staff at a difficult time.

All racing in France has been suspended until the middle of April.

Tiger Roll denied chance to make history

Gordon Elliott’s Tiger Roll was the ante-post favourite for the £1 million race and would have been bidding to emulate the legendary Red Rum in winning the historic contest for a third time.

The Grand National is certainly not the first big race to face cancellation or postponement worldwide – the Kentucky Derby in America is expected to be postponed until September – but it’s a further hammer blow for bookmakers.

Bookmakers’ shares plunge again

Bookmaker share prices plunged again on Monday as major operators warned the cancellation and postponement of sports events caused by the coronavirus outbreak could reduce their earnings for the year by more than £100 million.

Flutter issued an update on Monday morning which said their earnings this year could be reduced by £90-110 million due to the impact of the global pandemic.

William Hill shares were hit hard, down nearly 30 per cent at one point and ending the day more than 25 per cent lower while shares in Ladbrokes Coral’s parent company GVC Holdings were down more than 21 per cent.

Paddy Power, Boylesports and the majority of independent bookmakers in Ireland announced on March 16 that they will be closing the doors of their retail outlets until March 29 at the earliest in an effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines set out by the government.

Ireland’s largest independent bookmaker, Boylesports, have 278 shops in the country while Paddy Power have 250. Ladbrokes‘ shops will remain open for the time being, however.

Irish betting industry facing massive job losses

The Irish Bookmakers Association has confirmed most of its membership will also close their doors in the coming days with mass closures putting thousands of jobs could be at stake in Ireland if restrictions continue into the summer, though everyone is stressing that public health must come before business concerns.