Tiger Roll

Grand National 2020: Virtual Reality to the Rescue

With ‘the world’s greatest race’ having to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 outbreak and social distancing guidelines, may racing fans were set to disappointed this Saturday 4th April when the race was due to be run.

But ITV has now stepped in to broadcast The Virtual Grand National 2020 at the race’s scheduled start time of 5pm, using CGI (computer generated imaging) animation and sophisticated algorithms to create a virtual line-up of 40 of the real horses that were the most likely to have taken part in the race.

The virtual race is actually an annual event, which usually takes place on the Friday of the three day Grand National Festival, but this year’s broadcast will be set to mirror the set-up of the real event, had it gone ahead.

Factors included in the race’s algorithms include likely weather and ground conditions, plus the known statistics of the horses such as recent form, previous runs in the race, and form over distance. Added into the mix will be the weight, age, and race trends etc, to make the race as close to the real thing as possible.

The racing spectacular, to be hosted by Nick Luck, could answer a key question – who might have run the Grand National if it had gone ahead this year?

Among the runners are this year’s favourite Tiger Roll, who if he had won would have joined the legendary Red Rum in the history books, with a third victory in the race.

Nick Luck will be joined by former champion jockey Richard Pitman and other guests to watch the Aintree spectacular take to the virtual turf, while commentator, Stewart Machin, the job of calling home the runners.

The special programme will also pit Red Rum and Tiger Roll against each other in a Race of Champions, alongside 38 other winners who will race over a computer-generated recreation of the real Aintree jumps and famous course.


Odds are now being released on the runners, so you can even have a bet on the race! The major UK bookmakers have announced that proceeds from all bets on the Virtual Grand National will be donated to NHS charities dealing with the affects of Coronavirus in the UK. AND WE’RE JOINING IN TOO.

Before the real 2020 Aintree Grand National was called off, the back-to-back winner and record-chaser Tiger Roll was generally the favourite, with last year’s Irish Grand National winner Burrows Saint also popular, along with Any Second Now, Definitly Red and last year’s runner-up – Magic Of Light.

In the normal Grand National, bookies would create special offers such as faller refunds and extra place each-way terms; as well as special bets such as number of finishers. With 40 runners in the Virtual Grand National, each-way betting terms will be the same as the normal race, to four places, but it is likely that bookies will offer place returns on horses as far down as finishing 6th, 7th, 8th or even 9th. Keep your eye out for the best Virtual Grand National odds and offers.

The 2020 Virtual Grand National will be shown ‘live’ on the ITV network at from 5pm–5.30pm on Saturday 4th April 2020.


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