Could There Be a 2019 Grand National with No Irish Runners?

Our lives have been consumed with Brexit for more than two years and with things getting down to the wire, there are no signs of it stopping any time soon.

The number of industries likely to be affected by the current situation is far too many to count. But one that will definitely be affected is British Horseracing. With Prime Minister Teresa May’s Brexit deal getting the big thumbs down last week, those at the BHA are bracing themselves for its impact on the rest of the racing season, particularly the Grand National at Aintree on April 6th 2019.

A race known for its notoriously difficult fences, a huge portion of the entries come from Ireland. The likes of Irish Champion Trainer Willie Mullins and last year’s winning trainer, Gordon Elliott, enter a significant amount of potential runners.

As those entries get whittled down through the declaration stages, more than a third end up taking part in the race. In 2018, last minute withdrawals from Regal Encore and Walk In The Mill saw the number of starters reduced from 40 to 38 and 15 of them were brought from Ireland.

So why would Brexit impact the Grand National? The answer is simple. The UK, Ireland, and France are signatories on the Tripartite Agreement. This is an amendment to an existing European directive that allows the free movement of horses within those three countries. If Britain leaves the EU with no deal, then the Tripartite Agreement ceases to exist. And if it doesn’t exist then there is no free movement of horses from Ireland to the UK.

Bookmakers have cut the odds of no Irish runners in the Grand National to 16/1, which may seem quite drastic. However, that’s due to an unusual increase on Brexit bets. It’s also highly unlikely.

The British Horseracing Authority are keeping a close eye on the political developments and are determined to ensure that the Grand National still takes place with the best horses taking part.

“We are watching the political discussions around Brexit very closely and talk frequently to government,” a BHA spokesperson said.

Furthermore, a statement on the BHA’s website states clarifies the situation even more.

It reads: “In a No deal scenario the same rules and laws will apply the day before and after exit, with further changes agreed over time by the UK Parliament.

“Therefore, in broad terms, the starting point for the UK Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry is that rules and regulations relating to imports and activities from the EU to the UK will remain the same, in the short term.”

The BHA have put in place plenty of measures to ensure that racing continues as usual and thankfully, for fans of the Grand National, it means the odds of no Irish runners lining up is slim to none.

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