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Virtual Grand National Will Replace Aintree Race On 4 April

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Virtual Grand National Will Replace Aintree Race On 4 April

Although the Grand National as we know it has been called off, next weekend a televised virtual version will take place.

It will include 40 runners who would have been the most likely to take part and it will use CGI technology and a special algorithm.

Yes, we KNOW it's no comparison, but still, let's try to maintain some level of normality, however small it is.

Tiger Roll was hoping to get a record-breaking third consecutive win in the annual race, which was set to take place on Saturday 4 April, before it was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The 2020 Grand National was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: PA
The 2020 Grand National was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: PA

Instead, the virtual race will be broadcast on the same day at 5pm on ITV.

Executive producer Rob McLoughlin said: "We use the latest CGI technology and algorithms and were ready to go ahead as a forerunner to the big race, but now we want to cheer the nation up and ask the computer if history could have been made."

McLoughlin grew up near the site of the Grand National, in Maghull.

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The unprecedented Virtual Grand National will see other greats, including the legendary Red Rum, race against Tiger Roll and 38 others in the Race of Champions.

Steve Rogers, chief commercial officer for virtual sports at animators Inspired Entertainment, told the BBC: "In 2017, Cause of Causes won the Virtual Grand National and came a close second in the real race hours later.

"The 2018 result was breathtaking as Tiger Roll won both in almost identical circumstances and the computer chose three of the top five finishers, including the Tiger, in 2019."

A virtual Grand National will replace the real thing on ITV on 4 April. Credit: PA
A virtual Grand National will replace the real thing on ITV on 4 April. Credit: PA
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It's not been confirmed whether or not bookies will be taking bets on the race.

The news of The Grand National being cancelled was confirmed by The Jockey Club, which said the decision was not taken lightly.

Sandy Dudgeon, senior steward of The Jockey Club, said: "Public health must come first. We were working on a plan to stage the Grand National behind closed doors given its importance to the racing industry and beyond, but following the new government measures confirmed this evening to help to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, this is not a viable option.

"I know this is hugely disappointing news for the many people who work in our sport and the many millions who were looking forward to this year's event, but very sadly these are exceptional times and this is the responsible thing to do."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Amelia Ward
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