Virtual Grand National set for April 4

Last Updated 13 Aug 2020 | Commercial content | 18+

The Virtual Grand National has been developed with Inspired Entertainment’s Manchester-based animation team. They use past form, the views of a panel of experts and the going and weather conditions to assess the likely outcome, but the computer makes the final decisions. Leading commentator Stewart Machin takes the mic as the race plays out virtually hours before the real event.

In 2018, for the only time in the three-year history of The Virtual Grand National, the same horse won both the Virtual and actual National (Tiger Roll) but other similarities have been remarkable.

In 2017, Cause Of Causes won the Virtual Grand National and was second in the race itself. In 2018, Tiger Roll did the double and last year Rathvinden won the Virtual race and was third in the race itself.

In 2017, the algorithm came up with six of the top-10 finishers and the runner-up in the real race won The Virtual Grand National. In 2018, it selected six of only 12 finishers and the winner.

Steve Rogers of Inspired said: “We were in disbelief for days afterwards. The races stand out on their own as sport and entertainment even without the extra ingredient of attempting to tell the nation where their favourite may finish.”

Virtual Horse Racing

Image via Betfair

Bookmakers offer bets on the Virtual Grand National, which is traditionally held a couple of hours before ‘The People’s Race’. Obviously, due to global health and safety risks there will be no Grand National in 2020 with government restrictions on mass gatherings and sporting events forcing the cancellation but the Virtual National will have no such problems. The Race is a charity event with all proceeds going to the NHS Charities Together.

ITV will show the event as a standout event of its own, with so little actual sport on our screens and the popularity of the Virtual Grand National, most major bookmakers will take bets on the Virtual Grand National. Coral Virtual Racing, Ladbrokes Virtual Horse Racing, William hill Virtual Racing, Paddy Power Virtual Grand National and Boyle Virtual Grand National all set to offer similar odds as they would have done for the actual Grand National. Remember all proceeds from betting activity on this event will be donated to the NHS.

Virtual racing has grown in popularity ever since bursting onto the screens of SIS in the early 2000’s, where they provided betting opportunities for punters during the foot and mouth epidemic which saw the Cheltenham Festival and a host of other huge meetings cancelled.

Unlike real racing, Virtual runners’ odds are close reflections to their actual chances with the computer favourite getting more chance than an outsider, although a random number generator ultimately decides each runner’s fate. Virtual Racing is a bit like the old seaside game where the favourite has more balls than the outsiders only with slick animations and a host of realistic features.

How the runners for the Virtual Grand National are selected without a final field remains to be seen but one can be pretty sure that the result will be pretty accurate so, this year, I’m taking Burrows Saint to beat Tiger Roll with Kimberlite Candy and Beware The Bear third and fourth!

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