THE Welsh Grand National will take place behind closed doors for the second straight year – with Chris Hughes calling the decision ‘ridiculous’.
The Welsh government announced last night that all sport from Boxing Day will be played behind closed doors.
Chepstow had been due to welcome some 7,000 punters to their showcase event.
But now it will just be the TV cameras and stable staff at the track next Monday.
Some £85,425 is up for grabs for top spot in the Grade 3 contest last year won by Secret Reprieve, who is head of this year’s market at 9-2.
The decision to ban fans from the ground was a hammer blow to Chepstow, especially as for months it looked like the world was heading back to some form of normality.
But the surge in Covid cases as a result of the Omicron variant but a temporary end to that.
Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething said: “Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year.
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“Unfortunately, the new Omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections
“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.
“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe.
“The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of Omicron.
“We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can. Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”
However, responding to the news of the race going behind closed doors, former Love Island star and ITV Racing pundit Hughes wrote: “Ridiculous.”
And Sky Sports Racing host Alex Hammond said: “Can’t wait to see if Secret Reprieve can do the double. Such a shame for @Chepstow_Racing it’ll be behind closed doors.”
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