LAMBOURN trainer Nicky Henderson reluctantly backed the decision to cancel this year’s Grand National because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Renowned as the world’s greatest steeplechase and the biggest betting event on the racing calendar, the Aintree spectacular was officially called off on Monday evening following increased measures put in place by the government in an attempt to tackle the rapid spread of Covid-19.

The National is one of the few major prizes to so far elude five-time champion jumps trainer Henderson.

But the Seven Barrows handler feels officials were left with little option but to call off proceedings in Liverpool.

“From racing’s point of view it’s a very sad day - this is one of the biggest events of the year that goes worldwide,” Henderson told BBC Radio Four.

“But at the same time, we have to respect enormously the situation that our country and indeed the whole world is in as well.

“We are in a sort of crisis that we haven’t known before - not our generation anyway.

“To lose the Grand National is sad for the industry and the sport in general, but we all appreciate the situation we’re in at the moment.”