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Virtual Grand National: How does it work? Who are the favourites?

Odds and info for Saturday’s virtual race

With the Virtual Grand National set to have its biggest audience yet this weekend, many will be wondering how it actually works.

It will be the fourth renewal of the Virtual Grand National, featuring the runners expected to have run in the real thing at Aintree.

Coral will be donating any profits from the race to NHS Charities Together, but before it’s screened live on ITV from 17:00 on Saturday, we’ve broken down the state-of-the-art technology behind the event, and looked over the odds for the virtual showpiece.

Who are the favourites?

Tiger Roll has been denied a historic Grand National hat-trick (until next year at least), but Gordon Elliot’s star tops the betting for the virtual equivalent at 5/1. He’s already won this event in 2018 and finished second behind Rathvinden last year.

Any Second Now is next up as a 10/1 shot, followed by Burrows Saint (12/1), Definitly Red (14/1) and Kimberlite Candy (16/1). Magic of Light is rated 18/1, having come second to Tiger Roll in the real event last year.  

How was the Virtual Grand National created?

It took Inspired around 18 months to develop the Virtual Grand National.

To start, they filmed Aintree using drone cameras in order to recreate the course as accurately as possible.

CGI was used to recreate the horses, as well as realistic turf, all 30 fences and crowds.

A flocking algorithm was then developed, which takes race situations into account, such as how horses round corners, tire, and how the field reacts to a fallen runner.

How is the result determined?

The software uses information from each of the horses’ real performances,
including their past form, weight and age.

Factors such as the weather conditions are also taken into account. All of this data helps to determine the probability of each horse’s finishing position.

Does that mean that the horse with the best stats always wins?

You never know for sure what’s going to happen in real racing, and especially the Grand National.

The Virtual Grand National takes that into account – artificial technology is used to determine how the horses move around the course, how they jump fences and interact with fellow runners, with an element of unpredictability built in.

The stats are used to determine which horses have a greater probability of winning – just as odds are in real racing.

That’s why you’ll also see shorter prices for the likeliest winners of the Virtual Grand National.

View the latest Virtual Grand National odds.

All odds and markets correct as of date of publication