Racing fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief as this year’s Grand National is going ahead – in a way…
Oh yes folks, the Virtual Grand National 2020 promises to be a cracker and will be as close as it gets to all the thrills and spills of Aintree.
What is the Virtual Grand National?
After the real Grand National at Aintree was cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, a new virtual race will be run in its place.
It will feature 40 horses including Tiger Roll who is looking to make history and win the race for the third year in a row.
This will be the fourth year the Virtual Grand National has been broadcast and the race is decided by a series of algorithms and simulations.
Executive producer Rob McLoughlin said: “We use the latest CGI technology and algorithms and were ready to go ahead as a forerunner to the big race, but now we want to cheer the nation up and ask the computer if history could have been made.”
Racing TV supremo Nick Luck has been drafted in to host once again, with commentary provided by Stewart Machin.
How can I watch the race?
The pre-recorded Virtual Grand National will be shown on ITV from 5pm until 5.30pm this Saturday, April 4.
So you can either watch it on TV, through the ITV Hub or on ITV’s website.
Make sure you tune in!
Who is running in the race?
Can I bet on the race?
Yes you will be able to back your favourite horse!
You’ll be able to bet through numerous betting operators, who have confirmed all profits will be donated to the NHS Charities Together, an umbrella organisation that represents more than 140 NHS charities.
The move has the backing of Betting and Gaming Council members including bet365, William Hill, Flutter Entertainment, Sky Bet, GVC Holdings, Betfred, Betway, BetVictor, JenningsBet, Tote and Inspired Entertainment.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “With the UK understandably and rightly in lockdown, unfortunately the Grand National can’t take place.
“The virtual Grand National will be the closest we can get to creating one of those moments when we can all come together in celebration, not just for the world’s greatest sporting events, but also for the NHS heroes working on the front line to keep us all safe.
“I am delighted that our members have stepped up in this way to support the national effort to combat Covid-19 by contributing all of their race profits to NHS Charities Together.
“Millions of us love a flutter on the Grand National.
“For many, it’s the only time of year they place a bet. This year, the big winner will be our NHS.”
Stakes will be limited to £10 per horse per customer for the event or £10 each-way per horse.
In addition, the Tote will be providing a pool on the race and donating profits to charity.
Sky Bet spokesman Michael Shinners said: “We are betting on the race, and in line with others in the bookmaking industry are donating all profits to the NHS charities. These are incredibly tough times for the whole country and in particular the NHS staff, who are doing such a remarkable job, and we are pleased to be able to play our part in supporting their efforts.”