Due to the ongoing worldwide coronavirus outbreak, horse racing in Britain has been decimated and the world-famous Grand National at Aintree was one of the first things to go.

Luckily for racing fans and once-a-year gamblers alike, the Virtual Grand National 2020 has been drafted in to replace the real event which will take place at exactly the same time as the actual race was due to be shown, on Saturday April 4 at 5PM UK time.

Alongside the Virtual Grand National, which has actually existed since 2017 and has predicted some scarily accurate results, there will also be a Race of Champions featuring past greats such as Aldiniti, Red Rum and Tiger Roll.

While its almost impossible to say who the best Grand National winner of all time truly was, it will be fascinating too see what the computer’s algorithms come up with and who takes the unofficial title of Grand National champion of champions!

Virtual Grand National 2020

While this unique event has already been on the go for a few years, it hasn’t really been in the public horse racing consciousness.

Due to the cancellation of the Grand National this year however, ITV Racing has decided to broadcast the event to potentially millions of people.  It means the pin-stickers, one-off punters and pro’s alike can still get their sweepstake fix as 40 computer-generated runners tackle the mammoth 4¼-mile distance as well as Aintree’s 30 fences.

Whereas before this race, unlike most other virtual horse racing, was for fun only and used as a prelude to the real race this time around it seems Virtual Grand National 2020 betting is to be introduced, with all profits going to the NHS to help the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

Talks have been taking place between top online bookies and the Betting & Gaming Council.  Anyone landing a winning bet can be paid out, but betting firms don’t want to be seen to be profiteering during the current crisis.

So, handing their profits to the NHS seems to be a win-win for everybody involved with bookmakers also likely to agree to a maximum bet of £20 each.

How Does The Virtual Grand National Work?

The forty horses thought by experts to have been the most likely to run in the real race will now take part in the Grand National virtual race.

The very latest CGI technology will be used by creators Inspired along with computer algorithms which take into account data on each horse’s performances, their ability and their allotted handicap weight.

Along with each horse’s own info, data points regarding likely weather conditions and going are added while Inspired also load in information taken from a panel of horse racing experts who offer their expertise on which horses they think could win, who is at risk of falling and so on.

As well as all this, Inspired have also mocked up every nook and cranny of Aintree itself which we can all see in wonderful Ultra HD as the Virtual Grand National 2020 plays out in front of us.

Now, given the extra interest in the race due to the cancelation of real horse racing in Britain until at least May, horse racing betting sites are allowed to get involved for the first time as the country’s punters look to fill that void!

Best Bookies To Bet With On Virtual Grand National

Most major bookmakers will now be able to offer odds on the Virtual Grand National, with these five being among the market leaders.

Paddy Power

Already a huge name on the horse racing scene and beyond, Paddy Power has in recent years been part of several mergers meaning they are now part of what is known as Paddy Power Betfair, liking them up with the pioneering betting exchange platform with the group now known as Flutter Entertainment.

As well as the two main betting brands, Flutter also owns Australian bookie Sportsbet, American betting and TV network TVG and major horse racing data brand Timeform.

This authority means Paddy Power have got the nous to offer a great platform as well as strong bonuses and sign-up deals.

Paddy Power’s virtual horse racing offering is a good one, with mock-ups of flat races available to bet on every two minutes of the day.  Virtual jumps races go off every three minutes and sprint races again go off every couple of minutes.

As Paddy Power is already heavily involved in virtual horse racing, it seems they will be right at the head of the queue when it comes to offering odds on the Virtual Grand National.

The current sign-up offer at Paddy Power involves a £10 Risk Free Bet for newbies, something that can be used on virtual racing as well as anything else you please!


888Sport is part of a much bigger global gambling concerned called 888Holdings.  The parent company also owns 888casino, 888poker and WinkBingo as well as their sportsbook making them one of the biggest gambling companies in the world.

With that success often comes the ability to hand out great bonuses and that’s something 888Sport has done on many occasions, with new deals advertised constantly.

If you’re a new customer linking up with 888Sport for the first time, you can grab their Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets promo to boost the initial amount you have to bet with, though as always this comes with certain conditions meaning you’ll have to keep betting for a while before you’re able to cash anything out.

They also have a loyalty programme called VIP Rewards which allows you to earn up to £500 in cash every week.

The bad news is, 888Sport doesn’t have a virtual horse racing section currently, but the good news is you will still be able to bet with them on the Virtual Grand National and your bonuses will still apply so check out 888Sports’s horse racing section which is where odds on the big race will appear.


A genuine high street bookmaking behemoth and now one of the biggest internet bookies on the planet too.  Ladbrokes is one of the oldest firms of its kind and, while they aren’t necessarily known as the most generous on the market, they do still delve out some decent bonuses from time to time.

To consolidate their market power, Ladbrokes got together with fellow old-timers Coral and so now their prowess in the market is even greater.

Ladbrokes, known as the Magic Sign, already show virtual horses races every couple of minutes all throughout the day and in high quality, meaning they are well on top of this niche.

Undoubtedly one of Britain’s favourite brands will be all over the Virtual Grand National betting, although if they are allowed to price the race up individually just watch out for them not being overly generous with certain horses!

Current bonuses on offer which could be used in conjunction with bets on the Virtual Grand National are the Bet £5 Get £20 deal for new customers only, as well as free daily odds boosts on any sport of your choosing, presumably including this unique event.

Ladbrokes’ VIP programme is really aimed at their casino customers, so while virtual racing generally speaking is decided by a Random Number Generator, you cannot use bets there to contribute to the scheme.


Often mired in controversy but still one of Britain’s most popular high street and internet bookies, Betfred has been on the go since way back in 1967 and has even had a stint as the owner of on-course pool betting brand The Tote.

Having fully got to grips with internet betting over the years, Betfred’s online platform is now their staple and within this a full range of virtual sports are available to bet on including, of course, horse racing.

Their ‘Dash’ virtual horse racing events go off every two minutes of the day, every day and to compliment this there is also a standard virtual horse racing offering with races planned every three minutes.

It seems more than likely that Betfred will be offering a full market on the Virtual Grand National, probably in their normal horse racing section as opposed to their virtual one, with odds likely to be comparable to other major firms.

Betfred have VIP programs set up for both casino and sports customers although virtual racing as we know it doesn’t count towards the loyalty set-up, while their bonuses are on a par with most of their competition.

For new customers, Betfred offers their Get £30 in Free Gets When You Stake £10, something to perhaps take advantage of before the big CGI race goes off.


Sitting behind only Paddy Power in the list of the all-time biggest Irish bookmakers to have emerged, BoyleSports are a well-known high street and internet brand with a powerful platform and a reputation for very fair odds and bonuses.

BoyleSports’ virtual section has an array of computerised sports available to bet on with both flat racing and National Hunt (jumps) part of the offering.  Races go off every couple of minutes and are in high quality, though of course not the same quality as we’re about to witness with the Virtual Grand National!

As of recently, BoyleSports began working with Inspired however, the very firm responsible for creating the Virtual Grand National itself.

There are promotions aplenty at BoyleSports, the new customer offering being £25 in Free Bets.  To get this deal, you’ll need to bet £10 to receive a £5 freebie before the rest the deal is offered in increments.  You can use this bonus money on the Virtual Grand National.

A VIP programme exists at BoyleSports but, as is usually the case, it does not help where virtual horse racing is concerned.

BoyleSports are known to be very competitive within the horse racing market and the upcoming virtual National is being treated by most as a real horse race rather than just a virtual one, so odds boosts and special prices may well be offered on April 4 for the big race within their usual horse racing section.

Virtual Grand National Runners

Creators Inspired use the latest graphical developments in virtual jockey and horse racing animation to produce this 3D, CGI representation of the most famous race in the world.  Information about every runner and rider, helped along by input from real racing professionals, goes into producing this ultra-real event.

Key Virtual Grand National Runners

40 horses will line up in the big race on Saturday April 4, and while odds are not available yet it is clear who the front-runner are likely to be.

Virtual Grand National 2020 Tips

The full list of Virtual Grand National runners will be made available by organisers in due course, with Virtual Grand National betting following immediately after.  Given what we know so far and allowing for the fact that odds on most runners will be huge, we can afford to think about having several bets at low stakes to keep a fun interest in the event:

Past Grand National Winners

Since the Virtual Grand National’s inauguration, the computer algorithm with help from a number of horse racing experts has proven to be very accurate, with three of last year’s first five home predicted meaning a lot of each-way bets were landed by those choosing to believe the system!

Rathvinden, who won the Virtual Grand National in 2019, was third in the real race while Tiger Roll, always the subject of horse racing betting offers, was predicted correctly as the winner in 2018.

Virtual Grand National 2019 Results
  Predicted Top 3 Actual Top 3
1st Rathvinden Tiger Roll
2nd Tiger Roll Magic Of Light
3rd Jury Duty Rathvinden


Virtual Grand National 2018 Results
  Predicted Top 3 Actual Top 3
1st Tiger Roll Tiger Roll
2nd Chase The Spud Pleasant Company
3rd Total Recall Bless The Wings

Bottom Line On Grand National Betting

The Virtual Grand National has already proven to be a great addition to the horse racing world and now, given its proven accuracy, it can prove to offer some terrific light relief during trying times for those who usually place a bet once a year on the big race itself.

Racing pro’s can use their own nous to have a bet on this race, knowing full well that the algorithms used come from proper racing knowledge, while those not so racing savvy could do worse than take a look at last year’s results and have a crack at some of the horses who did well then.

Whatever your thoughts, it seems worth having a go so as soon as odds are made available make sure you have a little flutter!

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