Virtual Grand National: TV channel, start time and live stream information

There may be no Grand National this year, but fans of horse racing’s biggest event can still back a winner this Saturday.

ITV was due to present coverage of the Aintree race until organisers called it off because of the coronavirus crisis.

The 2020 race could have been a historic event, with last year’s champion Tiger Roll going for a record-equalling third victory after coming home first in 2018 and 2019.

But despite the cancellation, racing fans can still cheer on ‘horses’ this year when the Virtual Grand National takes place.

Rob McLoughlin, the race’s executive producer, 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.

“It’s very sad not to have the real race but this is fascinating and fun and, as proven since 2017, incredibly accurate.”

In 2018 the virtual race saw Tiger Roll win in very similar circumstances to the real race, while last year’s CGI version correctly predicted three of the top five finishers.

What time is the Virtual Grand National?

In real life the Grand National is the grand finale of a three-day festival of racing. However, that won’t be happening this year.

Despite that the CGI equivalent will still be getting underway at the traditional time of 5.15pm, with 40 ‘runners and riders’ under the virtual starters’ orders.

A virtual race of champions is also due to be held, although it’s currently not clear whether or not that will be held before or after the National.

What channel is the Virtual Grand National

Like the real Grand National, ITV will be presenting coverage of this year’s virtual race.

Only the main race is being run in CGI form, rather than the whole three-day festival.

For those not in front of the TV, it will be possible to follow the race on the ITV Hub live stream if you have an account.

Can you bet on the Virtual Grand National?

Grand National weekend is one of the biggest events of the year for bookmakers. Alongside regular punters, those having their once-a-year flutter and taking part in work sweepstakes also put their money on the line.

With no sport on for the foreseeable future, this looks set one of the few chances to have a bet.

With the full list of runners has yet to be announced punters are currently unable to place bets, however it’s understood that bookmakers will be open for bets over the coming days.

Tiger Roll v Red Rum

Red Rum and Tiger Roll are both Aintree legends.

Red Rum became the first horse to win the Grand National three times – in 1973, 1974 and 1977 – while Tiger Roll has won the last two, and was set to take part this year.

Red Rum is Aintree's most famous winner
Red Rum is Aintree’s most famous winner

Virtual racing allows fans to watch the race that could never take part in real life – Tiger Roll v Red Rum.

Red Rum died in 1995, 15 years before Tiger Roll was born, but both will line up in the virtual race of champions.

“It is the dream race, the one everyone will want to see, the legend and the competitor head-to-head and it can only happen as part of this ITV special,” said Richard Pitman, rider of Crisp who was famously pipped to the post by Red Rum in 1973.

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