Virtual Grand National

The Virtual Grand National is a computerised interpretation of the most famous horse race in British sport.

Everybody, regardless of their interest in horse racing, knows about the Grand National. Held at Aintree every year, this race captures the imagination of the British public thanks to its rich purse and lengthy heritage. Millions of viewers tune in every year to watch Nick Luck host this event and fill them in on the form of the runners and riders.

What racing audiences may not be familiar with is the virtual version of the very same event.

Virtual Grand National

What is the Virtual Grand National?

The Virtual Grand National is a computerised interpretation of the race, invented by Inspired Entertainment in 2017. Ordinarily, this virtual race is used to predict the results of the real Grand National.

Data algorithms based on previous performances from the runners and riders are fed into a computer, and a CGI version of the race is run on-screen. Virtual Grand National results have proved broadly accurate in the past, making it possible to predict the winner at Aintree based on the finishing positions here.

As you can imagine the result of the Virtual Grand National is built around a series of complex algorithms, trends and probabilities, it takes into account a number of factors such as:

  • Age of horse
  • Weight being carried
  • The recent form
  • If they have performed over the distance

As a ‘twist’ they then add 15% on top as an “unpredictability factor” because, as we all know, the true race has seen some twist and turns over the years! This means that there is still some luck factor involved. It’s been developed by a leading software company called Carm Productions, we personally can’t wait to see it. It has been used as precursor over the last few years to the main race and the results have been pretty good.

The outbreak of coronavirus meant that all horse racing was suspended in the UK throughout the spring of 2020. As a result, the Virtual Grand National was the closest anybody came to watching the real thing. Aintree was closed, and there was no Grand National in 2020.

The televised CGI chase – hosted, as always, by Nick Luck and watched by almost 5million viewers – was won by Potters Corner, an 18-1 shot.

Does the Virtual Grand National Always Predict the Right Winner?

The Virtual Grand National result is considered a betting guide for events at Aintree. If you check who won the Virtual Grand National 2019, results mirrored the real race. Tiger Roll took the victory in both virtual reality and real life.

Previous years were slightly off, though. 2018’s computerised event was won by Rathvinden, but Tiger Roll actually achieved his first of two victories this year. In 2017, Causes of Causes won the Virtual National but finished second to One for Arthur in the flesh. All the same, the results are close enough to be considered reliable.

Who Won the Virtual Grand National 2020?

Forty horses were selected to complete in 2020’s virtual race, and nineteen of them finished. As with the genuine race, some cyber-horses fell at hurdles, while others refused to run or dismounted their riders. The following runners and riders completed the Virtual Grand National 2020:

  • 1st – Potters Corner
  • 2nd – Walk in the Mill
  • 3rd – Any Second Now
  • 4th – Tiger Roll
  • 5th – Burrows Saint
  • 6th – Pleasant Company
  • 7th – Ballyoptic
  • 8th – Kimberlite Candy
  • 9th – Top Ville Ben
  • 10th – Vintage Clouds
  • 11th – Peregrine Run
  • 12th – The Storyteller
  • 13th – Talkischeap
  • 14th – Dounikos
  • 15th – Kildisart
  • 16th – Alpha Des Obeaux
  • 17th – Beware the Bear
  • 18th – Anibale Fly
  • 19th – Death Duty

This result came as a shock to many. Tiger Roll, winner of the race in 2018 and 2019, was the favourite to claim a third consecutive victory in 2020 with odds of 4-1. Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott, the jockey and trainer respectively for Tiger Roll, will need to wait until 2021 to right this potential wrong.

Potters Corner was something of an outsider at 18-1. This horse won the Welsh Grand National in December of 2019 however, so the algorithm checks out.

In addition, 2020 also saw a CGI Race of Champions. This computerised exhibition featured forty icons of Aintree’s past, including Lottery (the first-ever winner of the National), Mr. Frisk (record holder for fastest completion of the race) and the legendary Red Rum.

The aforementioned Red Rum took the victory. Manifesto, who holds the record for the most entries in the race (eight, with two wins), came second. Our old friend Tiger Roll also cropped up once more, finishing third in the CGI Race of Champions.

Virtual Grand National Odds

The odds for the Virtual Grand National in 2022 have yet to be released.

Can I Bet On The Virtual Grand National?

Yes you can. Wagers are limited as it’s mainly for fun. This means that the maximum bet on the race with all bookmakers is £10 per horse. You can either do £5 each way (most bookies are paying top 5 places) or a straight £10 win. It’s all basically meant to be a bit of light relief.

What Happened to the Prize Money at the Virtual Grand National 2020?

The Grand National is the richest jump race in Europe, offering a substantial sum to the winner. This is mainly because the race attracts bets from even the most casual – or indifferent – of punters. Naturally, with no jockeys involved in this CGI version, the National could not payout to a winning rider in 2020.

Bets could still be placed on the 2020 Grand National, with a minimum wager of £10 each way accepted. Anybody that placed a bet on Potters Corner received their winnings from bookmakers. The profits from all losing bets, however, were donated to the NHS. This raised £2.6m for the beleaguered health service, reeling from the impact of Coronavirus at the time of the event.

Summary of 2020 Virtual Grand National

When Inspired Entertainment invented the Virtual Grand National, they were surely expecting it to simply act as a research tool, not a televised event that enthralled the nation. It’s likely that the Virtual Grand National will return to this status. Horse racing appears to have overcome the uncertainty that surrounded the sport during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Aintree is likely to hold the race live once more in 2021. All the same, keep an eye on the CGI version of this celebrated event. It may hold more relevance in the future than any of us anticipated.

Virtual Grand National 2020 FAQ

  1. Is Virtual Horse Racing New?” –  Surprisingly not, it’s just something you would not see broadcast on peak time TV on a Saturday afternoon but in many ways it’s a novelty and something fun. Simulated and virtual horse races actually happen every day of the week in most bookies across the country. It’s fair to say that the Virtual Grand National will be the biggest one ever staged so in that respect the whole thing is pretty ground breaking.
  2. I had a bet on Tiger Roll to win the real Grand National will this bet be carried into this virtual race? Or do I get that money back and have to bet again? Hopefully, I do as I quite fancy Burrows Saint Now” A good question! As the real race has been abandoned it means that all bets for that all off, so you will be able to get your money back on all bets placed for that race from the bookmaker who you placed the bet with. So yes, you will get your initial bet on Tiger Roll back. The Virtual Grand National is an entirely new proposition so if you wanted to bet on that you would place it is a new bet. As mentioned above there is a wager limit on the race of £10 per horse in this version, you can obviously bet higher stakes if you had wanted to on the real Grand National. We personally think £10 is more than enough for some light relief.
  3. What is the best place to place a bet with for me and my family? Are there any offers that you would recommend?” Lots of online bookies are doing offers for the race and we have listed some of the best ones above. It’s best to check a couple out and see which personally suit you. It’s fair to say that there are some good offers across a whole range of them with many matching your initial deposit but check out the terms and conditions and as we all state play responsibly and have fun. Good luck in the race.

If you are looking to bet online we recommend the following great deals:

As the Founder of British Racecourses, I have a life-long passion for horse racing and have loved the sport as long as I can remember. I am also a keen racehorse owner and have worked in the gambling industry for several years. I set up British Racecourses with the desire to share my passion for racing with other like-minded people.