Who could have known back in January, when the 2020 Grand National entries were announced, that we would be where we are today. We have gone from the highs of the Cheltenham Festival to the lows of all race meetings being called off.
To counter the obvious disappointment of canceling the Grand National, ITV decided to run a virtual race instead. Using the latest in technology, computer systems were poised to get the 2020 Virtual Grand National underway on Saturday 4th April 2020. And to keep things as real as possible, it was also aired at the same time the real big race was due to be held – 5.15pm.
And we really got behind it with 4.8m people tuning in to watch it live. Cleary demonstrating that we also like a flutter, firms reported on Saturday that the average bet on the race had been £2.
Potters Corner Wins The Virtual Grand National
The graphics for the race were excellent with plenty of action in the form of horses unseating riders and refusing to jump some of the fences. Keeping it real, we even had a faller at the first in the form of Tout Est Permis.
Plenty of virtual horses vied for contention and the leaders changed throughout, with Talkischeap leading for the first part of the race. Tiger Roll always there or thereabouts. He had plenty of competition from the likes of Irish Grand National winner, Burrow’s Saint and Becher Chase winner Walk In The Mill.
With two fences to go, it was Aso in the lead with Tiger Roll and Any Second Now hot on his heels. However, as he jumped fence 29 Aso crashed out of the race leaving Tiger Roll to take up the lead. It was then that Potters Corner started his challenge moving into third place. Jumping the last he went into first place. It was a long run home but Potters Corner, the Welsh National winner, held on to win the Virtual Grand National 2020.
Walk In The Mill finished second, with Any Second Now in third and Tiger Roll in fourth spot. So it looks like top weight finally defeated the mighty Tiger and the win went to jockey Jack Tudor on odds of 18/1.
— jack tudor (@jacktudor9) April 4, 2020
Ironically, in reality, Jack Tudor may not have even qualified to ride in the real National as he still needed a few more wins under his belt to get in. Undoubtedly he’ll take the win, even if was only Virtual!
How The Virtual Grand National Was Created
So how did the virtual Grand National work? Instead of 40 jockeys and horses taking to the starting line, they competed in a computerised form instead. The computer-generated race featured the 40 horses that were most likely to race for real. They were also all paired with their most likely jockey.
The horses raced over the 30 fences they would take in the real Grand National with the animation created by Inspired Entertainment. They have been recreating the action of the world’s most famous sporting events for more than 15 years. Using a huge number of variables, they have previously created virtual Grand Nationals and have been a good indicator of the real result each year since it began in 2017.
The race itself use the latest CGI technology and algorithms to produce a result based on data. That included the runners’ form and going preferences. Few people were privy to the outcome of the race, which to be fair, was really good!
Virtual Grand National Betting
We know it wasn’t real, but bookmakers still offered odds on the Virtual Grand National. There’s a good reason though. Most leading bookmakers stated that all profits from the 2020 Virtual Grand National will be donated to the NHS Charities Together Appeal.
And to make sure that it was all just a bit of fun, there was a maximum bet of £10 or £10 E/W per horse per customer allowed and the odds were the exact same across the board. So the good news was that if you won, you won and if you lost the profits were donated to charity. Can’t say fairer than that really.
2020 Virtual Grand National Finishing Order
1. Potters Corner 18-1
2. Walk In The Mill 16-1
3. Any Second Now 10-1
4. Tiger Roll 5-1
5. Burrows Saint 12-1
6. Pleasant Company 28-1
7. Ballyoptic 25-1
8. Kimberlite Candy 16-1
9. Top Ville Ben 45-1
10. Vintage Clouds 33-1
11. Peregrine Run 66-1
12. The Storyteller 40-1
13. Talkischeap 25-1
14. Dounikos 50-1
15. Kildisart 50-1
16. Alpha Des Obeaux 25-1
17. Beware The Bear 33-1
18. Anibale Fly 20-1
19. Death Duty 50-1
Fell at 1st Tout Est Permis 80-1
Fell at 3rd Shattered Love 66-1
Unseated at 3rd Valtor 66-1
Refused at 3rd Warriors Tale 80-1
Refused at 10th Jett 50-1
Refused at 10th Ok Corral 25-1
Fell at 11th Lakeview Lad 50-1
Fell at 11th Crievehill 66-1
Fell at 14th Total Recall 40-1
Refused at 14th Elegant Escape 20-1
Unseated at 14th Double Shuffle 100-1
Unseated at 15th Saint Xavier 66-1
Refused at 17th Definitly Red 14-1
Fell at 19th Acapella Bourgeois 33-1
Fell at 20th Ramses De Teillee 66-1
Fell at 26th Bristol De Mai 20-1
Refused at 26th Sub Lieutenant 33-1
Refused at 27th Jury Duty 40-1
Unseated at 27th Yala Enki 28-1
Fell at 27th Magic Of Light 18-1
Fell at 29th Aso 66-1