Almost 5m people tuned in to watch the race on Saturday afternoon
Sunday 5 April 2020 16:47, UK
Bookmakers are to donate over £2.6m to NHS charities from profits of the Virtual Grand National, which was held on Saturday afternoon.
With the real thing cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and racing on hold until at least the end of April, the computer simulation captured the imagination with almost five million people tuning in to watch the race on television.
It proved to be a virtual epic, with the Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner (18-1) clinging on under teenage rider Jack Tudor to hold off the challenge of Walk In The Mill on the run from the Elbow.
Interest was boosted by bookmakers announcing all profits would be donated to NHS Charities Together, the umbrella organisation which represents over 140 NHS charities.
The Betting and Gaming Council - which will also donate profits from bets placed in Ireland to Irish charities, including the Irish Red Cross - hopes further money may be raised from successful backers donating some of their winnings.
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 Grand National Festival at Aintree."
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."