Virtual Grand National Makes £2.6m for NHS
by Glenn Baird - April 6, 2020
Using the latest CGI technology and algorithms based on form and conditions, a virtual version of the Grand National went ahead this weekend, with the winner turning out to be 18-1 outsider, Potters Corner taking the race and preventing Tiger Roll from winning an unprecedented 3 races in a row (something the racing great can rectify in next year’s meet).
The Covid-19 crisis has meant that no sport is taking place in the UK right now, so in an attempt to give fans of the race something to cheer for, TV station ITV, decided to run a virtual race, with just under 5 million viewers tuning in to watch.
Punters were allowed to bet on the race but a £10 maximum stake was set and the bookies themselves thought appropriate to give all profits from the meet to NHS, the UK’s health service that is currently battling against the all-consuming global pandemic.
Viewing figures for the race peaked at 4.8 million, which was 30% of the overall TV audience at the time. Considering the numbers from last year’s race reached 10 million, I think it is safe to say that the event was a success and there can be no doubt that the money will be well received by NHS charities.
The Betting and Gaming Council are hopeful that even more money can be raised if successful punters are willing to donate their winnings to the NHS too.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “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.
“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.”
Coral’s David Stevens said: “We had no idea how popular the Virtual Grand National would be as it was a completely unique situation, with the virtual version replacing the real thing, but throughout Saturday it became apparent that millions of people were still having their annual flutter on this famous race.
“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, and most importantly, all those small bets added up to a fantastic donation to NHS Charities Together.
“We are all seeing on a daily basis the amazing work the NHS are doing right now, so it’s entirely fitting that they are the real winners of this year’s virtual Grand National.”
Programme makers Carm Productions were delighted with the broadcast, saying: “What an incredible few days it has been. We first aired the Virtual Grand National in 2017, and we feel honoured that it has been able to stand in for the Grand National at this difficult time.
“Let’s hope it has entertained racegoers and the wider public. We also hope that it has been able to help raise funds to support the NHS at this important time. We would also like to thank ITV and the Jockey Club of their ongoing help and support.”