The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have confirmed that £2.6million will be donated to NHS Charities Together thanks to the success of Saturday evening’s Virtual Grand National.
With the 2020 Random Health Grand National Festival having had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, a lifelike simulation was broadcast on ITV to replace the regular race.
Using CGI technology and special algorithms, 40 runners who were likely to line up at Aintree took part in the simulated fundraising race.
Potters Corner, an 18-1 shot, was the victor by holding off Walk In The Mill (16-1) while Any Second Now (10-1) came third.
The strong favourite, Tiger Roll, ended in fourth with the real life horse having won the last two successive Nationals.
A virtual Race of Champions was also held with three-time National champion Red Rum coming out on top, while Manifest came second with Tiger Roll third.
Bookmakers including bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and Sky Bet offered odds on the two races with the profits going towards the NHS to help their battle against COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people in the UK.
And the BGC have confirmed that after the race peaked with 4.8million viewers, over £2.6m in profits has been raised for the NHS’ umbrella organisation, which represents over 140 charities.
It was added that profits from bets placed in Ireland will be donated to Irish charities such as the Irish Red Cross.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “We are overwhelmed with the public support for the virtual Grand National and the support shown for NHS Charities Together.
“When the nation was in much need of some light relief, millions joined in the fun in honour of one of Britain’s greatest sporting events and helped raise a fantastic amount for our brave heroes in the NHS.
“The country is going through what is little short of a nightmare at the moment, so it was heartwarming to see pictures on social media of so many people enjoying themselves watching the excellent ITV Racing and Carm Productions programme which had such impressive viewing figures.
“I am proud that so many BGC members, up and down the country, are supporting in so many different ways the national effort to combat COVID-19, including here by contributing all of their race profits to NHS Charities Together.
“NHS Charities Together thanked the BGC yesterday but I’d like to thank them for the amazing work that they do in support of the NHS all year round.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t have the real Grand National to find out if Potters Corner would have won or whether it would have been an historic three in a row for Tiger Roll, but at this time of need the nation used the day to come together and back our NHS.
“It’s also fantastic that the Jockey Club will be donating 10,000 tickets to the NHS and social care sector in Merseyside for the first day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree.”