Virtual Grand National 2020: What time is the race, what TV channel is it on and how does it work?

Alan Tyers
The Telegraph
Virtual Grand National 2020: What time is the race, what TV channel is it on and how does it work? - ITV
Virtual Grand National 2020: What time is the race, what TV channel is it on and how does it work? - ITV

If you don't know by now that all professional sport in this country has been cancelled, then we both admire and fear you. The Grand National, as surely everyone knows, has been one of the events to go.

The much-loved Aintree horse race was due to be run this Saturday April 4th but it is no longer on with the country in lockdown over coronavirus.

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However, where there is a will there is a way, especially if there are opportunities to gamble on sport involved, and instead racing has cooked up a Virtual Grand National.

Virtual racing is not a new thing – some of the country's best and brightest can be seen following it in betting shops on any day of the week. But it is not generally televised on ITV on a Saturday at 5pm.

Let's find out who is running in the race, how they are going to do it, who is going to win and how you can have a punt.

Virtual Grand National sweepstake
Virtual Grand National sweepstake

What is the Virtual  Grand National?

It is a horse race featuring the horses who would have run in the real race, with their details fed into a computer simulation done by a company called Inspired.

How do they do that?

Steve Rogers, head of virtual sports at Inspired, said: “Information about the horses is fed into the software which helps determine the probability of their potential finishing positions based on form and past performance.”

The machine has a reasonable record at predicting how the race will turn out - it reckoned Rathvinden would be first and Tiger Roll Second last year, those two finished third and first.

Virtual horses approaching a virtual fence - ITV
Virtual horses approaching a virtual fence - ITV

What time is it on TV?

The ITV programme starts at 5pm on Saturday and is a short and sweet 30 minutes. Nick Luck is the presenter and racing great Richard Pitman is a guest.

Bonus History round

There's also a special bonus virtual race in which the greatest historical horses compete against each other - which was also the plot of one of the Rocky films. So you can see if Red Rum would have beaten Tiger Roll, or L'Escargot, or Golden Miller and so on.

Can you have a bet?

You certainly can. Here's the blurb from Ladbrokes: "All bookmakers are providing the same standard service to recreational customers that want a fun flutter, which is a win and each way bets, 5 places each way (1/5th odds), and a maximum bet per customer of £10 win or £10 each way per horse. The Virtual Grand National is a random number generated event, operated for ITV by Inspired, and the prices will be fixed for each runner and proportionate to that horse’s chance. There will be 40 runners in the race."

Oh, and the bookies say they are giving all the profits to NHS Charities Together.

Grand National 3 - ITV
Grand National 3 - ITV

So the result is already known?

It is - ITV are obviously not putting this on as a live event, so several people must know the outcome and could win a nice few quid by exploiting that knowledge. This never, ever happens in real horse racing.

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