The Cheltenham Festival is scheduled to take place from Tuesday, March 10, to Friday, March 13. However, racing could now be affected because of the coronavirus.
The disease initially broke out in China but has since swept across the world.
British Horseracing Authority chief executive, Nick Rust, told the Betfair Betting podcast: “We have an industry group in place that has been and continues to work on the potential impact of the coronavirus on the horse racing industry as a whole.
“The BHA executive met with the team at Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday morning to discuss final plans for the Festival, and the coronavirus was discussed at that meeting.”
He added: “In terms of potential ramifications for the Festival, any decision that impacts on it taking place will not be a decision that racing makes, but rather the Government.
“In the event that the Cheltenham Festival was postponed, either in its entirety or in part for any reason, there are contingencies already in place to re-stage it later in the season.”
Will the Cheltenham Festival be cancelled?
Racing fans have taken to social media to express concerns that the Festival could be called off due to the coronavirus.
One wrote on Twitter: “Anyone else worried that the Coronavirus could stop Cheltenham?”
Another commented: “If the Cheltenham festival gets cancelled because of the coronavirus I’m going to sulk like a baby for probably an entire year until the next one comes around.”
A third wrote: “Any chance of Cheltenham being off with this Coronavirus outbreak?”
Odds have now been released on Cheltenham Festival 2020 being cancelled, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Betfair Exchange is currently offering punters either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether racing will go ahead on March 10.
Over £25,000 has been traded on the market already, with odds shortening on the Festival not going ahead this year.
In the last few hours, odds have shortened from 5/2 into 23/10 that it does not go ahead. In percentage chances, that’s jump from 28 per cent to 30 per cent that Cheltenham Festival is cancelled.
On the other side, it’s now 4/11 that racing goes ahead on March 10.
Concerns have been raised over the safety of sporting events going forward amid the outbreak, with Ireland’s Six Nations match against Italy cancelled this weekend.
Back in 2001, the Festival was postponed and then cancelled due to the foot-and-mouth disease, with an exclusion zone being placed around the course.
Oddschecker spokesperson Callum Wilson said: “It’s halted the Chinese Super League, it’s halted Serie A, but could the coronavirus outbreak now scupper this year’s Cheltenham Festival?
“Being the highlight of most racing fans’ calendars, it would be an absolute disaster if Cheltenham is cancelled due to the COVID-19 fears, leaving many avid punters desperately twiddling their thumbs during the barren four days of revoked action.”
Will Cheltenham Festival 2020 go ahead? Latest odds
Yes – 4/11
No – 23/10