When, and why, was the Grand National ever cancelled?
Following three runnings of the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, the first ‘official’ running on the Grand National National took place at Aintree on February 26, 1839. In the best part of two centuries, or 182 years, to be exact, since, the Grand National has been cancelled outright just six times. Even during World War I, when Aintree Racecourse was requisitioned by the War Office, a substitute race was staged at Gatwick Racecourse in 1916, 1917 and 1918.
During World War II, Aintree Racecourse was, once again, occupied by the military, leading to the outright cancellation of the Grand National in 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. However, the Grand National returned to Aintree in 1946, shortly after the departure of American troops and, thereafter, enjoyed an uninterrupted spell until 2019. Of course, the 2020 renewal was cancelled outright due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aside from outright cancellations, the Grand National has been declared void once, in 1993, when a fiasco at the start led to many of the jockeys setting off around the course, despite a false start being called. It has also been postponed once, in 1997, but only by 48 hours, after a coded terrorist bomb threat led to the complete evacuation of Aintree Racecourse on Grand National Day.