With Brith racing suspended until at least the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s running of the world’s greatest steeplechase will not take place. However, fans will instead be treated to a virtual edition of the Grand National using the latest CGI technology and algorithms.
All profits from bets placed on the simulated race will be donated to the NHS, an initiative that has been backed by racing legend AP McCoy.
Previous results of the virtual National have been remarkably accurate and it could help answer whether the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll would have emulated Red Rum in winning for the third successive time.
Tiger Roll has been priced up as the 5-1 favourite, ahead of Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now at 10-1 and Willie Mullins’ Burrows Saint at 12-1.
McCoy, who won the Aintree showpiece at the 15th attempt aboard Don’t Push It in 2010, said: “Most of all it’s a great cause – you wouldn’t expect anything else, but it’s good of the bookmakers to be doing it.
“For those people that are working in the NHS, doing the work they are at the moment, it must be horrific, what they are seeing at times.
“Hopefully those people on the way home can tune in and see the money being raised. The way the world is at the moment sport is obviously second fiddle, but a little break and something might help everyone and it’s for a great cause in the NHS.”
He added: “I’d have gone for Burrows Saint in the real one, I just thought having won the Irish Grand National last year he’d have plenty going for him.
“If we were being realistic I’d say Burrows Saint, but a better story would be Tiger Roll winning – I’d like Tiger Roll to win the Virtual Grand National. I hope none of them get bad rides!”
The programme will be presented by Nick Luck, who said: “It’s a bit of fun.
“It’s intention was to be a bit of fun. Now it has an extra layer of significance, especially now the NHS and its brilliant workers will benefit.
“This is a diversion for families at a time when everybody needs one.”