McCoy backs NHS donation from Virtual Grand NationalBy Timeform, Thursday 02 April Sir Anthony McCoy has given his backing to a bookmaker initiative that will see all profits from bets taken on the Virtual Grand National donated to the NHS.
With racing in Britain suspended until at least the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's running of the world's greatest steeplechase will not take place.
But ITV announced plans last week to air a 'virtual' version, using the latest CGI technology and algorithms, in a special programme on Saturday to be hosted by Nick Luck, with the race taking place at 5.15pm, replicating the start time of the real thing.
Previous runnings of the virtual National have been shown to be remarkably accurate, and could help answer whether the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll would have emulated Red Rum in winning for the third time.
Among the Betting and Gaming Council members involved are bet365, William Hill, Flutter Entertainment, Sky Bet, GVC, Betfred, Betway, BetVictor, JenningsBet and Inspired Entertainment.
Tiger Roll has been priced up as the 5-1 favourite, ahead of Ted Walsh's Any Second Now at 10-1 and Willie Mullins' Burrows Saint at 12-1.
McCoy - who famously won the Aintree spectacular at the 15th attempt aboard Don't Push It in 2010 - said: "Most of all it's a great cause - you wouldn't expect anything else, but it's good of the bookmakers to be doing it.
"For those people that are working in the NHS, doing the work they are at the moment, it must be horrific, what they are seeing at times.
"Hopefully those people on the way home can tune in and see the money being raised. The way the world is at the moment sport is obviously second fiddle, but a little break and something might help everyone and it's for a great cause in the NHS."
The 20-times champion, who is an ambassador for William Hill, added: "I'd have gone for Burrows Saint in the real one, I just thought having won the Irish Grand National last year he'd have plenty going for him.
"If we were being realistic I'd say Burrows Saint, but a better story would be Tiger Roll winning - I'd like Tiger Roll to win the Virtual Grand National. I hope none of them get bad rides!"
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: "With the UK understandably and rightly in lockdown, unfortunately the Grand National can't take place. However, the virtual Grand National will be the closest we can get to creating one of those moments when we can all come together in celebration, not just for the world's greatest sporting events, but for the NHS heroes working on the front line to keep us all safe.
"I am delighted that our members have stepped up in this way to support the national effort to combat Covid-19 by contributing all of their race profits to NHS Charities Together. Millions of us love a flutter on the Grand National. For many, it's the only time of the year they place a bet. This year, the big winner will be our NHS."
It has been agreed with NHS Charities Together that stakes will be limited to £10 per horse, per customer for the event or £10 each-way per horse. In addition, the Tote will be providing a pool on the race and donating profits to charity.
Coral's David Stevens said: "Normally now we'd be building up to the biggest betting day of the year, with the nation looking forward to having a flutter on the big race this Saturday, but clearly more important and serious events have rightly put that on hold in 2020.
"However, the virtual Grand National means people can still get involved in something fun this weekend, and while the two-time winner Tiger Roll won't get a chance to complete the hat-trick for real until next year, he could become a virtual winner.
"More importantly, there will be nothing virtual about any profits the betting industry raises for our amazing NHS at this vital time."
Related Horse Racing Links
Grand National 2021 News
Find out all the information about the runners and riders in the 2021 Grand National
Might Bite set for Grand Sefton test
Might Bite is set to have a spin over the Grand National fences next month with Nicky Henderson eyeing the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.
Grand National the ultimate aim for Potters Corner
Last year’s Coral Welsh National winner Potters Corner is not certain to defend his Chepstow crown next month, with the Grand National his main target.
Tiger Roll to have "full MOT" following Cheltenham disappointment
Tiger Roll will be a given a “full MOT” next week following his disappointing outing at Cheltenham on Friday.View all Grand National 2021 News