And may yet scupper Liverpool’s first Premier League title
CORONAVIRUS currently ravaging the global population, wreaking death and desolation across the cosmos, has claimed its first equine casualty, the world’s favourite and best known horserace bar none, the Grand National, that spectacular steeplechase so beloved of millions has fallen victim to the terrifying Covid-19 plague, the men in suits pulling the plug on the meeting after listening to the advice of the men in white coats that it would be foolhardy to allow a quarter of a million racing enthusiasts to mingle cheek to cheek at the iconic Aintree three-day Festival. A body blow for Merseyside, but worse was to follow with the deadly virus also triggering the suspension of the footy season just as Liverpool, for the first time, were about to be crowned Premier League champions, and are now facing selfish calls from certain clubs, motivated by naked self-interest, that the season be aborted and declared null and void.
So sadly the Aintree Festival, one of my favourite race meetings of the year, is another Corona casualty, further platforms to showcase their talent denied to recent Cheltenham victors seeking more glory, or opportunity for the Prestbury Park vanquished seeking redemption. Alas no Liverpool Ladies Day, always a joyous Friday gathering of the city’s finest females, beauties of all shapes and sizes, uncomplicated, tittering, some tottering, hanging out, eschewing Pimm’s for pints, no Royal Ascot ice maidens here, lovely girls, all determined to have a good time.
But above all, the cruellest blow is that tiny Tiger Roll has been denied the opportunity to rewrite Grand National history by winning the great race three times in a row, the doughty County Meath warrior had been installed as short-priced favourite to emulate mighty Red Rum by completing the National treble in consecutive years, despite being lumbered with top weight by a soulless handicapper who had the discretion, but refused to lighten pony-sized Tiger’s load by what could have proved to be a vital few lbs – a man-made blow to the chances of the history seeker, before the attempt was totally erased by what is also increasingly looking like a man-made intervention, Covid-19, the ghastly virus that is now catastrophically raging out of control across the entire planet.
All is not lost though in Tiger’s quest to rewrite the Grand National history books, his ebullient trainer Gordon Elliott recently stated in a BBC Radio 4 interview that the 2021 renewal will be his stable star’s main objective, and at 11 years, age will be no barrier to the chances of the equine phenomenon achieving the impossible – three Nationals in a row, a feat that proved even beyond the King of Aintree, the legendary “Rummy”. Here’s hoping we all survive the Corona pandemic and are still around to witness and celebrate the great day.
On the football front, calls to have this season’s Premier League campaign voided, abandoned and start again in August as if PL 2019/20 never happened, are wicked and shamefully selfish. Liverpool, currently an astonishing 25 points clear of their nearest pursuer with just nine games left to play, have been a joy to watch all season, their brand of football exhilarating, evoking memories of the golden Dalglish era, and to deny the Reds their first title since the abolition of the old First Division must not be permitted to happen.
Whilst calls to start afresh next August are deplorable but somewhat understandable from clubs fearing relegation and being shown the red card that bars entry to the bottomless PL treasure chest, it is comments from media celebrities like Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan, nurturing his insatiable quest to court controversy and keep his bloated ego firmly in the public eye, that cause intense irritation. “Motormouth” Morgan, an Arsenal fan like me, declared that although it’s tough on Liverpool, the season should be abandoned as though it never happened, and kick off a new campaign in August! No Piers, No, Premier League 2019/20 must be completed and the Reds afforded the opportunity to secure the few points needed to ensure that the championship crown ends up where it so rightly belongs – the Trophy Cabinet at Anfield.