Sport Grand National back with a bid to honour brilliant NHS
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Former NHS CEO Sir David Nicholson warned No10 increasing delays to surgery pose a risk to patients' health and will become a massive political problem over the next few years. A record 4.59million people in England are waiting for treatment as a result of hospitals having to prioritise Covid patients.And the NHS Confederation believes there could be as many as 6.9million people on the 'hidden waiting list' by the end of the year.
And fans desperate for some betting fun to lift the gloom of lockdown are predicted to wager up to £250million on Saturday's big race. It is a welcome return as, in its 180-year history, the National had only previously been called off during the wars and for the disastrous voided race of 1993. It ended in shambles following two false starts after protesters invaded the course. Last year's event was replaced with an NHS-charity virtual race. And, as a salute to health workers, the first day of this year's festival is called the Liverpool's NHS Day.
Dickon White, of Jockey Club Racecourses North West, said: "We're delighted to rename the first day of the festival...as a small way to show our gratitude.
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"In addition, we will be working closely with our friends in the NHS to provide a special thank you to a few people who have gone above and beyond in these difficult times."
With spectators still not allowed, 10,000 tickets donated to health workers by the Jockey Club are being carried forward to next year.
NHS Liverpool boss Jan Ledward said: "It's a fantastic gesture. Staff are working tirelessly to keep services running."
Restrictions are not putting people off a flutter. David Stevens, of Coral, said: "Although betting shops will be closed, the race remains the biggest betting event of the year."
Rupert Adams, of William Hill, said: "Betting may be slightly down due to Covid but only by around 10 percent, as punters are eager to see the return of big sporting events such as the National."
Saturday's four-mile, 30-fence Randox Grand National starts at 5.15pm. All eyes are on the favourite Cloth Cap, trained by Jonjo O'Neill.
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