The Grand National has been cancelled

The Grand National Festival at Aintree has been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak,

Renowned as the world's greatest steeplechase and the biggest betting event on the British racing calendar, the meeting s was scheduled to take place from April 2-4.

"Following the government's new public health guidance regarding avoiding social contact and stopping non-essential travel, and its statement that emergency services are withdrawn from supporting mass gatherings from tomorrow, the Jockey Club has decided that it is no longer appropriate to stage the event," a Jockey Club Racecourses statement said.

"Jockey Club Racecourses, which runs Aintree and several of the UK's leading racecourses, had been assessing the feasibility of running the world's most famous steeplechase behind closed doors with minimal staff on site, but the latest government information on the measures needed to contain the virus have led it to believe this is no longer a viable consideration."

New protocols were announced in Britain on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) after Ireland and Scotland had already closed race meetings to the public.

Last week, more than 250,000 attended Cheltenham over the four days of the famous jumps festival.