As a horse racing fan – unless you’ve been stuck on moon – you’ll already know that the 2020 Aintree Grand National has been called off this year.
Yes, the 2020 Aintree Grand National joins a long list of high-profile sporting events to have been cancelled due to the ongoing corona virus pandemic that’s spread all over the world – after all there are more important things going on at the moment – right?
It was back on March 16th 2020 that the UK horse racing officials pulled up stumps on the 2020 Aintree Grand National Meeting going ahead – and it wasn’t long after that horse racing in the UK and Ireland was stopped altogether too (17th). As a result, horse racing fans have been staring at blank screens ever since – plus, there is no real light at the end of the tunnel as to when the horse racing action will resume!
However, it’s not all bad – okay it is, but we are just trying to make you feel a bit better.
With no horse racing this gave race organisers a chance to come up with something slightly out of the ordinary to keep UK horse racing and the cancelled 2020 Grand National getting some sort of news coverage.
Step forward the 2020 Virtual Aintree Grand National, which will be staged on Saturday 4th April 2020, (5:15pm).
Yes, virtual horse racing is nothing new as most of the leading bookmakers show races each day online and in their shops, while they’ve been running a Virtual Grand National before the main race now for the last three years – and with a fair amount of accuracy too (more on that below).
The Virtual Grand National will be set up in 2020 to replace the real cancelled race and be aired on prime-time TV (ITV) in a bid to attract as much interest as possible. It will involve the 2020 intended Grand National runners being re-invented in CGI (computer-generated imagery) – and best of all the leading bookmakers have agreed to give their profits to the NHS – top darts!
So, the two-time Aintree Grand National winner – Tiger Roll – may still be able to grab that famous third win in the race – albeit as a computer-generated cartoon horse!
All Virtual Grand National Bookmaker Profits Going To The NHS – The Virtual Grand National will also be run with most leading UK bookmakers – including bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betfred, Skybet, Betway and BetVictor – all donating their Virtual Grand National profits to the NHS Charities, who are doing such a fine job in tackling the corona virus outbreak in the UK.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “With the UK understandably and rightly in lockdown, unfortunately the Grand National can’t take place. However, the virtual Grand National will be the closest we can get to creating one of those moments when we can all come together in celebration, not just for the world’s greatest sporting events, but for the NHS heroes working on the front line to keep us all safe.
“I am delighted that our members have stepped up in this way to support the national effort to combat Covid-19 by contributing all of their race profits to NHS Charities Together. Millions of us love a flutter on the Grand National. For many, it’s the only time of the year they place a bet. This year, the big winner will be our NHS.”
It’s been agreed with ‘NHS Charities Together’ that stakes will be limited to £10 per house, per customer for the event, or £10 each-way per horse – plus, the UK tote will also be providing a pool on the race, with all profits also going to charity.
The final 2020 Grand National runners will be turned into Virtual Grand National horses by some state-of-the-art technology and then have many clever algorithms feed into them.
These are likely to include things like the weather conditions on the day, ground, recent form, track form, past Grand National trends, weight, age etc etc – all this data with then, hopefully, align all the planets and help in pinpointing the most likely winner of the 2020 Aintree Grand National – had it been run for real!
Will There Be Betting On The 2020 Virtual Grand National?
With horse racing betting pretty much non-existent at the moment then we can expect a lot of the big bookmakers like – bet365, Coral, William Hill, Betfair, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power – to thrown their weight behind the Virtual Grand National and promote the main Virtual Grand National betting odds, while there is every chance some Virtual Grand National betting offers might pop-up too.
In the normal Grand National, a lot of bookmakers will offer their customers things like faller refunds, extra place each-way terms or perhaps specials, like the number of horses to finish the race or maybe a horse vs. horse match betting option.
Plus, as mentioned above, the leading UK bookies have also agreed to give ALL their profits on the race to the NHS charities.
With that in-mind – be sure to look out for the best Virtual Grand National betting offers in the days leading up to the race (Sat 4th April 2020).
Virtual Grand National – Who Is Likely To Be The Favourite?
Even though this is only the Virtual Grand National – and in reality just a load of cartoon horses running on screen which will resemble some sort of horse racing video game. However, with household names – like Tiger Roll – attached to these computer-generated horses then it will bring them more to life and give horse racing fans a sense of connection with horses they’ve been betting on in the real world for many seasons.
The 2018 and 2019 Grand National hero – Tiger Roll – headed the ante-post betting for most of the main bookmaking firms before the race was called off, and we can expect the Gordon Elliott-trained 10 year-old to be near the summit of the market when it comes to the 2020 Virtual Grand National race too – especially when the ‘once-a-year’ punters get stuck into the race and latch onto the Tiger Roll name.
Had the actual Grand National been staged, then Tiger Roll’s betting odds would have likely been in single figures – just like in 2019 when he won the Grand National as the 4/1 favourite – he then became the shortest-priced Grand National winner since Poethlyn won at 11/4 in 1919!
Where Can We Expect To See The Virtual Grand National Odds?
With betting on horse racing thin on the ground at the moment there is every chance the layers will be trying to get ‘bums on seats’ here – Virtual Grand National odds on display on most of the leading bookmaker’s sites – like bet365, Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, William Hill, Coral and Ladbrokes in the build-up to the race.
With 40 Virtual Grand National runners then it each-way betting terms will be the same as the normal race, 1-2-3-4 places, but we can expect many bookmakers to enhance their each-way place terms, with many offering place returns on horses as far down as finishing 6th, 7th, 8th or even 9th – be sure to shop around and look out for the best Virtual Grand National odds and offers.
With their being no UK horse racing then the 2020 Virtual Grand National is expected to fill a big betting void on Saturday 4th April – even if it’s just a computer-generated simulation of what the race would have been.
Therefore, there is every chance the ‘once-a-year’ punters will still get involved and bet on the Virtual Grand National, while at a time when most people need a few small distractions then this is another reason why the betting on the Virtual Grand National is expected to be popular.
Before the 2020 Aintree Grand National was called off, the back-to-back winner Tiger Roll was generally an 8/1 favourite, while last year’s Irish Grand National winner – Burrows Saint was (12/1), Any Second Now (12/1), Definitly Red (12/1) and last year’s runner-up – Magic Of Light (16/1).
Virtual Grand National Tips
We can expect the current two-time champion – Tiger Roll – to still be very popular with Virtual Grand National betting punters. With proven winning form in the race then these strengths are sure to show-up well in Tiger Roll’s Virtual Grand National algorithms.
If running, the Irish Grand National winner – Burrows Saint – is another horse that could be popular as a Virtual Grand National tip, but it’s worth pointing out he’s a 7 year-old and the last 7 year-old to win the main Aintree Grand National was in 1940!
Another Virtual Grand National tip could be the 2019 Aintree Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light. He’s still only a 9 year-old – the same age as Tiger Roll 12 months ago. She’s likely to be one of the only mares in the race and despite being rated 7lbs higher than last year doesn’t actually have much more weight to carry – just 1lbs more than 2019. She’s been running well this season and with that proven form over the tricky Grand National fences then she looks a good Virtual Grand National tip with only 2 ¾ lengths to make up on Tiger Roll based on last year’s Aintree Grand National result.
The 2019 Aintree Grand National fourth – Walk In The Mill – is another horse to consider if making the Virtual Grand National final line-up. This 10 year-old was only beaten 16 lengths in the 2019 Grand National, but has also won the Becher Chase over the unique Grand National fences so we know he acts well at the track.
Where Can You Watch the Virtual Grand National?
Well-known horse-racing presenter – Nick Luck – will lead the ITV Virtual Grand National horse racing coverage, with commentator, Stewart Machin, been given the job of calling home the CGI-animated Virtual Grand National runners, while Alice Plunkett and Richard Pitman, who rode in the race many times, will join Nick Luck to give their thoughts, views and tips on the Virtual Grand National.
We can also expect re-runs of the race to be shown on video sharing channels like YouTube, while many bookmakers will also air the race LIVE if you’ve met their minimum betting requirements on the race – normally £2.
Virtual Grand National History
Believe it or not, the Virtual Grand National is not a new concept. A computer-generated running of the Grand National has been shown BEFORE the real race for the last three years.
It’s normally shown the day before the main Grand National, and believe it, or not it’s actually not been too far off the mark with it’s final results.
In the 2017 Virtual Grand National the Gordon Elliott-trained Cause Of Causes came out on top and then backed-up that form by running a solid second to One For Arthur in the real race a day later.
Then in 2018 we saw another Gordon Elliott runner – this time the well-known Tiger Roll – win the 2018 Virtual Grand National. He completed the famous Virtual and Real Life double just 24 hours later when winning the first of his Aintree Grand Nationals
In 2019 it was the turn of the Willie Mullins runner – Rathvinden – to win the Virtual Grand National and he showed that form to be rock solid again in the main race by running an excellent third.
Therefore, even though we won’t have a real race to back-up the 2020 Virtual Grand National result this year, the last three years results will surely give horse racing fans confidence that the many algorithms that are being pumped into each horse are solid guidelines to who the actual race would pan out.
The 2020 Virtual Grand National show on ITV is also expected to include a ‘Race of Champions’ Grand National. This will also be in virtual form and bring together many of the past Grand National champions in the race like Red Rum, Tiger Roll, Many Clouds and L’Escargot and possibly even the aptly-named first ever winner of the Aintree Grand National – Lottery.
Virtual Grand National Past Winners
2019 – Rathvinden (went on to be third in the real Grand National race)
2018 – Tiger Roll (went on to win the real Grand National race)
2017 – Cause Of Causes (went on to be second in the real Grand National race)
2020 Virtual Grand National Runners
Number, name, jockey, odds, weight
1 Tiger Roll, Davy Russell, 5-1, 11-10
2 Bristol De Mai, Daryl Jacob, 20-1, 11-8
3 Aso, Charlie Deutsch, 66-1, 11-2
4 Elegant Escape, Jonjo O’Neill jnr, 20-1, 11-2
5 Anibale Fly, Barry Geraghty, 20-1, 11-2
6 Top Ville Ben, Tom Dowson, 45-1, 11-2
7 Beware The Bear, Jerry McGrath, 33-1, 11-0
8 Peregrine Run, Kevin Sexton, 66-1, 10-13
9 Jett, Sam Waley-Cohen, 50-1, 10-13
10 Alpha Des Obeaux, Richard Johnson, 25-1, 10-13
11 Total Recall, Paul Townend, 40-1, 10-13
12 The Storyteller, Keith Donoghue, 40-1, 10-12
13 Magic Of Light, Robbie Power, 18-1, 10-12
14 Talkischeap, Tom Cannon, 25-1, 10-11
15 Yala Enki, Bryony Frost, 28-1, 10-11
16 Ballyoptic, Sam Twiston-Davies, 25-1, 10-11
17 Burrows Saint, Rachael Blackmore, 12-1, 10-10
18 Definitly Red, Brian Hughes, 14-1, 10-10
19 Sub Lieutenant, JJ Slevin, 33-1, 10-9
20 Ok Corral, Derek O’Connor, 25-1, 10-9
21 Tout Est Permis, Sean Flanagan, 80-1, 10-9
22 Vintage Clouds, Danny Cook, 33-1, 10-8
23 Crievehill, Tom Bellamy, 66-1, 10-8
24 Lake View Lad, Henry Brooke, 50-1, 10-8
25 Jury Duty, Mark Enright, 40-1, 10-8
26 Pleasant Company, David Mullins, 28-1, 10-7
27 Acapella Bourgeois, Danny Mullins, 33-1, 10-6
28 Shattered Love, Lisa O’Neill, 66-1, 10-6
29 Any Second Now, Mark Walsh, 10-1, 10-6
30 Potters Corner, Jack Tudor, 18-1, 10-6
31 Dounikos, Luke Dempsey, 50-1, 10-5
32 Kildisart, Nico de Boinville, 50-1, 10-5
33 Death Duty, Gavin Brouder, 50-1, 10-5
34 Ramses De Teillee, Tom Scudamore, 66-1, 10-5
35 Valtor, James Bowen, 66-1, 10-4
36 Saint Xavier, David Maxwell, 66-1, 10-4
37 Warriors Tale, Harry Cobden, 80-1, 10-4
38 Double Shuffle, Jonathan Burke, 100-1, 10-4
39 Kimberlite Candy, Richie McLernon, 16-1, 10-4
40 Walk In The Mill, James Best, 16-1, 10-4
Aintree Grand National Key Trends
· 28/29 – Ran no more than 55 days ago
· 28/29 – Officially rated 137 or higher
· 27/29 – Had won over at least 3m (chase) before
· 25/29 – Had won no more than 6 times over fences before
· 24/29 – Aged 9 or older
· 23/29 – Returned a double-figure price
· 23/29 – Ran no more than 34 days ago
· 22/29 – Carried 10-13 OR LESS
· 21/29 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
· 19/29 – Had won between 4-6 times over fences before
· 18/29 – Finished in the top 4 last time out
· 18/29 – Aged 10 years-old or younger
· 16/29 – Placed favourites
· 16/29 – Carried 10-8 OR LESS
· 16/29 – Won by an Irish-bred horse
· 15/29 – Aged 9 or 10 years-old
· 11/29 – Ran at Cheltenham last time out
· 10/29 – Trained in Ireland (inc 7 of the last 14 years)
· 6/29 – Won by the favourite or joint favourite
· 7/29 – Ran in a previous Grand National
· 7/29 – Won last time out
. 3/29 – Trained by Gordon Elliott
· 2/29 – Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies
· 2/29 – Ridden by Davy Russell
· 2/29 – Ridden by Leighton Aspell
· 0/29 – Won by a horse aged 7 years-old OR LESS
Aintree Grand National Facts
- Since 1978, 126 horses have tried to win with more than 11-5 – with just two winners – Many Clouds (11-9) in 2015 & Neptune Collonges (11-6) in 2012
- 16 of the last 21 winners were bred in Ireland
- Only 3 horse that won at the Cheltenham Festival that same season has won since 1961
- The last 7 year-old or younger to win was back in 1940
- 13 of the last 23 winners had won or been placed in a National-type race before
- No horse aged 13 or older has won since 1923 or placed since 1969
- 3 of the last 11 winners ran in the Scottish National the previous season
- 10 of the last 17 winners had run over hurdles at some stage earlier in the season
- 5 of the last 18 winners had been unplaced in the National last year
- Only four 8 year-olds have won the last 26 renewals
- Just two past winners or placed horse from the previous year’s race has won for 35 years (77 have attempted)
- 21 of the last 23 winners had fallen or unseated no more than twice in their careers
- Just two back-to-back winners since 1974 Red Rum (1974) and Tiger Roll (2019).
- 10 of the last 12 winners were having their first run in the race
- 19 of the last 24 winners were aged 8-10 years-old
- 16 of the last 21 winners were Irish-bred
- Gigginstown House Stud Owners are 3-from-4
- Only 1 winning 12 year-old in the last 24 years
- 21 of the last 23 winners had fallen no more than twice before
- Only 2 of the last 36 winners had won or been placed in a previous Grand National
Aintree Grand National Betting Trends (17 Year)
16/17 – Had won over at least 3m previously
15/17 – Ran less than 50 days ago
15/17 – Officially rated 137 or higher
14/17 – Won by a horse aged 9 or older
10/17 – Winners from the top 8 in the betting
10/17 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
9/17 – Won by horses aged in double-figures
8/17 – Experienced the National fences before
7/17 – Carried 11-0 or more in weight
7/17 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
5/17 – Won by a horse aged 10 years-old
5/17 – Won their last race
4/17 – Winning favourites (2 joint)
3/17 – Won by the Gordon Elliott yard
2/17 – Won by the McCain yard
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