Many were dubious as to whether or not to trust the virtual Grand National, but this had no impact on the viewing figures as more than 4.8m tuned in to watch the race unfold. With the real event being cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a computer stimulation was setup with special algorithms to determine how the race would pan out.
Broadcast across the globe
Proving to be a virtual epic, the event was broadcast across the globe on Saturday April 4th at the same time the genuine race was due to take place. Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner with teenage jockey Jack Tudor rode home with odds of 18-1 to the delight of many punters. But this wasn’t just any old sports betting event, this was one that would see all proceeds going directly the NHS – the National Health Service in the UK. In total, bookmakers donated over £2.6m (almost €3m) to NHS charities throughout the UK which was spectacular in itself.
Sceptics were won round with the bookies promising that all profits would go directly to Charities Together, the umbrella organisation which represents 140 NHS charities. That’s not all, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has also said that it will donate profits placed on the event in Ireland directly to Irish charities.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “I am proud that so many BGC members, up and down the country, are supporting in so many different ways the national effort to combat COVID-19, including here by contributing all of their race profits to NHS Charities Together.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t have the real Grand National to find out if Potters Corner would have won or whether it would have been an historic three in a row for Tiger Roll, but at this time of need the nation used the day to come together and back our NHS. It’s also fantastic that the Jockey Club will be donating 10,000 tickets to the NHS and social care sector in Merseyside for the first day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree.”
Potters Corner cam first with odds of 18-1 beating runner-up Walk in the Mill with odds of 16-1 in this computer-simulated event with Any Second Now with odds of 10-1 coming in third. The favourite. Tiger Roll with odds of 5-1 came in fourth with Burrows Saint (12-1 odds) finishing in fifth. There was less drama involved and no unfortunate fallers or deaths, which is why many people tuned in to watch. Could this event pave the way for future virtual spirting events? Who knows.
Programme makers Carm Productions were delighted with the broadcast, saying: “What an incredible few days it has been. We first aired the Virtual Grand National in 2017, and we feel honoured that it has been able to stand in for the Grand National at this difficult time. Let’s hope it has entertained racegoers and the wider public. We also hope that it has been able to help raise funds to support the NHS at this important time. We would also like to thank ITV and the Jockey Club of their ongoing help and support.”