Racing fans can rejoice after ITV revealed it will host a Virtual Grand National next week – as a replacement for the real thing.
The world’s most famous race was cancelled due to coronavirus, but that won’t stop forty horses going to war over the famous Aintree fences.
And although this year’s contest won’t feature any real-life contenders, computer-generated horses, trainers and jockeys mean the thrill of the Grand National is kept alive and kicking.
Tiger Roll, who would have bid for a record third straight victory in the race, will instead get his chance to win without even leaving his horsebox.
His avatar will be joined by the 39 most likely runners to have taken to the turf, with the strongly-fancied Burrows Saint and Magic Of Light also set to take part.
The virtual race, run for a fourth time since its creation in 2017, will be decided by a series of algorithms and simulations.
Racing TV supremo Nick Luck has been drafted in to host once again, with commentary provided by Stewart Machin.
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.
"It's very sad not to have the real race but this is fascinating and fun and, as proven since 2017, incredibly accurate."
In the three years to date, the virtual race has predicted 2017 runner-up Cause Of Causes, 2018 winner Tiger Roll and last year’s third, Rathvinden.
And with a dearth of racing action until at least the end of April, racing fans finally have something to look forward to.
The simulation is produced by Inspired Entertainment and Steve Rogers, chief commercial officer for virtual sports, said: "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.”
"My team have been working round the clock to make this year even more realistic than ever, and we can't wait to screen the Red Rum versus Tiger Roll match. It's terrific TV."
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