Virtual Grand National raises £2.6 million for National Health Service - in pics

Ross Houston
April 8, 2020

It proved to be a virtual epic, with the Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner (18-1) clinging on under teenage rider Jack Tudor to hold off the challenge of Walk In The Mill.

The computer programme used to create the virtual race took the form of 40 horses that were among the initial entries for the Grand National and produced a list of fixed odds on each runner's chance, before using a random number generator to pick a 1-2-3-4. The funds will go towards the NHS Charities Together organization.

So how did the virtual stand-in fare?

All losing bets placed on the virtual horses were donated to the NHS which generated £2.6m in the UK's fight against coronavirus.

"We are overwhelmed with the public support for the virtual Grand National and the support shown for NHS Charities Together", said Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council CEO.

NHS is set to receive some more donations in the future. The Jockey Club promised to give the NHS workers 10,000 tickets for the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival, while BGC hopes that the success of the virtual race will encourage the backers to donate some of their winnings to charities as well.

"The average stake per bet worked out at just over £2, which showed this virtual National really hit the spot in terms of providing a fun, one-off betting opportunity for so many people".

Bookmakers had helped boost interest by announcing all profits would be donated to NHS Charities Together, the umbrella organisation which represents over 140 National Health Service charities. Last year's Virtual Grand National attracted 737,000 viewers, while almost 10 million watched Tiger Roll land the race for the second year running.

This initiative is supported by the operating companies that make up BGC, including bet365, Flutter Entertainment, William Hill, GVC, Sky Bet, BetFred, BetVictor, Betway, Inspired Entertainment and JenningsBet.

Inspired's Virtual Grand National was televised on ITV in the United Kingdom at 5:00 PM on Saturday in place of this year's Randox Health Grand National, which was cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. Tiger Roll was commended on an excellent run, finishing fourth, but it remains to be seen whether the horse would have triumphed in "real life".

The virtual event was televised in the United Kingdom, with all real races suspended at least until the end of April. "This year, the big victor will be our NHS".

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