in

Virtual Grand National 2020: best odds and digital bets

Tiger Roll will have his chance to make history and bid for a third consecutive win in the Grand National after all. Well… sort of.

The Grand National was cancelled for the first time in peacetime in its 181-year history this year due to the coronavirus crisis, but racing fans will still get the chance to cheer on their selection in  the 40-horse field in the virtual race.

The NHS will be the biggest winner of the race with all profits from bets expected to raise up to £1 million to support NHS Charities, while stay-at-home sports fans starved of live entertainment will get the chance to enjoy some “live” action.

But this isn’t the first time a simulation of the Aintree showpiece has been simulated by computer. Each year a virtual Grand National is run. In 2018 the sophisticated algorithm correctly predicted Tiger Roll to win and got three of the top five finishers correct. Naturally this year the race, designed by Inspired Gaming, takes centre stage, with ITV screening the contest in the identical slot reserved for live coverage – 5.15pm this Saturday.

As always, the GQ Bookie is on hand having studied the virtual form and will be donning his very real racing togs on Saturday to cheer on his selections. Read on for the full rundown, plus a couple of tips, safe in the knowledge that your loss will be the fight against Covid-19’s gain.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s contest…

© Dave Shopland/BPI/Shutterstock

When is it?

The Grand National brings the curtain down on a three-day festival of racing at Aintree, but is not taking place this year.

A CGI version of the race will take place in its absence and the 40 virtual runners and riders will take to the course in the identical slot of 5.15pm. Typically, the real thing often goes off a few minutes late as the starter struggles to contain 40 horses and riders, so it remains to be seen if the pixelated ponies behave the same way.

What channel?

TV will be showing the virtual Grand National on ITV1 and the ITV hub for all to watch. Coverage starts at 5pm.

Can you bet?

Yes. The race will be simulated based on the form and other factors influencing a real race, so seasoned punters who have been studying up all season can still get involved.

Those looking to have their traditional once-a-year flutter will also be able to make their picks based on the usual criteria of names and colours, as they would in a normal race, with odds reflecting the real-life chances of the runners and riders.

Thanks to industry group the Betting And Gaming Council’s efforts, bookmakers will offer uniform odds and place terms (1/5 the odds, top-5 places for each-way bets) across the board.

Most importantly of all, every firm involved has made the pledge to donate all profits to NHS Charities. There’s a strict maximum stake of £10 per person, straight win only or each way, with the usual plethora of special bets restricted.

Given the alternative events for a flutter this Saturday look limited to Nicaraguan reserve football, Swedish chariot racing and the UK’s biggest online scrabble competition, if you’re a betting man or woman, it makes sense to get involved since the worst that’ll happen is you donate a tenner to the NHS.

Any tips?

Yes. Firstly, it’s safe to say that in a real race, where the odds would fluctuate in line with the market gyrations, Tiger Roll may well end up going off shorter than the fixed price of 5/1 chalked up against the champion. There’s plenty of value to be had if you want to back the favourite to emulate the great Red Rum. Almost.

We can forgive him his second place at Cheltenham since the real going that day came up a bit too soft for him, so on the basis that the virtual terrain may well turn out more to his liking, it’s very difficult to see him out of the top five, meaning an each-way bet would guarantee your stake is returned. Should the public’s horse romp to victory even in virtual form, he’s guaranteed to go into the history (and pub quiz) books for a lifetime.

However, given not only this is the Grand National, where, if accurately simulated, anything can happen, but since a losing bet goes into the pot for the NHS, it makes sense to throw a few more speculative darts, based on the horses’ real-life form of course.

© Craig Galloway/ProSports/Shutterstock

Our turf expert’s top four

1st Anibale Fly  – 20/1 
Consistent in previous Nationals, this classy sort can finally have his day.
2nd Tiger Roll – 5/1
Despite being virtual, his hefty handicap weight might just catch him out.
3rd Jury Dury – 40/1
Won an American Grand National; trainer knows how to win this race in real life.
4th Lake View Lad – 50/1 
Has the stamina required; could plod on past beaten horses for a place.

All 40 runners and odds

(Pinstickers’ guide from Sporting Life)

Tiger Roll – 5/1 
The real Tiger Roll is a legend of the sport, winning the last two Grand Nationals, while the virtual Tiger Roll has one Virtual Grand National to his name. Can the virtual Tiger do it again off top weight? He’s the 5/1 favourite.

Bristol De Mai – 20/1 
A bit of a surprise connections have chosen this route, but with no virtual Bowl to aim for, perhaps their hand was forced. The real Bristol De Mai is a Grade One winner and a top-class horse, but there are stamina question marks over him and the virtual BDM.

Aso – 66/1 
The real Aso has never won over further than 2m5f and he was last seen finishing 59 lengths off the winner in the Ryanair Chase over that distance. They used to say you needed a two-and-a-half miler to win the VGN, but even Ed Chamberlin doesn’t fancy him for this.

Elegant Escape – 20/1 
A former Welsh Grand National who has bags of stamina. Such an asset will likely be programmed into the virtual Elegant Escape, but so will his lack of pace – will we hear him mentioned after the first mile?

Anibale Fly – 20/1 
The real thing was placed in two Gold Cups and has finished fourth and fifth in two Grand Nationals. That will hold the virtual AF in good stead, but, while he’s likely to be in the top ten, he doesn’t look well-handicapped enough to win it.

Top Ville Ben – 45/1 
A random choice of odds, which suggests anything could happen here. The real TVB likes left-handed and flat tracks, so he should be right at home at virtual Liverpool and his bold jumping could well have taken him a long way in the real thing.

Beware The Bear – 33/1 
Nicky Henderson has yet to win a Grand National, virtual or otherwise, but, in Beware The Bear, he finally has the right type of horse. The one problem is he just looks a little high in the weights, in both real and virtual worlds.

Peregrine Run – 66/1 
Would need to sprout the wings of a peregrine falcon to win this, and, while that’s more likely in the Virtual Grand National than the real thing, he’s readily dismissed as a no hoper.

Jett – 50/1 
Would need to sprout the wings of a jet plane to win this… No, we won’t go there again. Actually looked quite an interesting outsider in the real thing, as he brings recent Grade One form to the table and looked reasonably handicapped.

Alpha Des Obeaux – 25/1 
Fell in the 2018 Grand National, shaped like a non-stayer in the Irish equivalent one year and stamina would be a real worry in real life. Ran third in the Becher, though, so he does have fences form for the computer generator to factor in.

Total Recall – 40/1 
The surprise choice of the virtual Paul Townend, so must be impressing virtual Willie Mullins at virtual Closutton. The real thing won the Thyestes Chase last time out, but that looked to have scuppered his chances from a handicap viewpoint.

The Storyteller – 40/1 
The real Storyteller is such a fascinating horse you could write a book about him. He was the luckiest winner of a Grade One novice chase that you’ve ever seen, while he’s a Cheltenham Festival winner too. Second in the Pertemps last time, so would’ve been aiming to do a Pineau DeRe in the real thing, a horse that was placed in the Festival hurdle before winning at Aintree.

Magic Of Light – 18/1 
A surprise second to Tiger Roll in the real thing last year at big odds, she clearly took well to the fences and her whole season has revolved around going back to Aintree. Looks sure to run well again at virtual Liverpool.

Talkischeap – 25/1 
Won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last year but paid for it after getting walloped by the handicapper. You would think that would scupper his chances in the VGN too.

Yala Enki – 28/1 
Is it soft at virtual Liverpool? His chance in the real thing would depend on getting some serious cut in the ground, you would think, but he is is good jumper and dour stayer, so if those traits have carried over to the virtual world he’d have an each-way chance.

Ballyoptic – 25/1 
Fell four out when beaten in the real race last year and showed little over the fences when well out of the frame in the Becher back in December. Bounced right back to form with an Ascot win after the weights for the real thing were released, and that has been factored in here so he’s virtually 6lb well-in.

Burrows Saint – 12/1 
A seven-year-old and that age group have struggled in the real thing, criteria the geeks behind the VGN will surely take into account. They’ll also take into account he’s trained by a virtual maestro, ridden by a virtual top jock and is improving like a virtual superstar. Also won the real Irish Nash last year.

Definitely Red –14/1 
Well fancied by the real Brian Ellison for the real thing and prepped for Aintree with a commanding win at Kelso when last seen. Eleven-year-olds used to rule the roost in the National, but they’ve become less fashionable in recent years and such recency bias might well be factored into the VGN.

Sub Lieutenant – 33/1 
Another eleven-year-old and this one was a G1 nearly-horse in his pomp. Well treated now on his best form and was second over the real fences in the Topham last year. Has his virtual stamina to prove, though.

OK Corral – 25/1 
The flatter track and quicker surface was credited with OK Corral’s bounce-back-to-form win in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January. Lightly raced and interesting for virtual Nicky Henderson, as mentioned before, still seeking his first Grand National – at virtual Aintree or otherwise.

Tout Est Permis – 80/1 
According to Google this translates as “everything is allowed” in English. Third in Pertemps Final over hurdles at Cheltenham and won the odd valuable chase along the way for veteran trainer Noel Meade. Only seven, so a mere slip of a thing.

Vintage Clouds – 33/1 
Plenty of positives in that trainer Sue Smith and owner Trevor Hemmings have won Nationals and he’s very good on his day. The negative… he seemed to take a distinct dislike to real Aintree on two visits here.

Crievehill – 66/1 
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies knows how to win a real Nash – this fellow has never run in one but did win a couple of races at Wetherby and Haydock this winter.

Lake View Lad – 50/1 
Another one owned by Trevor Hemmings, who used to own the actual Blackpool Tower too. Described as sturdy horse, which could be deemed offensive, but another capable staying chaser.

© Craig Galloway/ProSports/Shutterstock

Jury Duty – 40/1 
You can’t opt out of this in real life but can in the world of the Virtual Grand National. You might not want to as he was third last year. He did win an American Grand National in 2018 too. We backed him for the real thing last year but he decided to eject his rider at the 18th.

Pleasant Company – 28/1 
Something we all crave for in these times and this lad was second to Tiger Roll in the real Nash of 2017 and was bang there when ejecting his own rider at the fourth last fence last year.

Acapella Bourgeois – 33/1 
You won’t be surprised to hear he was bred, born and named in France. He races in Ireland, for their champion trainer Willie Mullins, and won a big National trial, the Bobbyjo, last time.

Shattered Love – 66/1 
My response to my partner’s inquiry as to how I’m feeling after a morning looking after our two-year-old. The equine version is a very good mare, winner at Grade One level, but not for a little while.

Any Second Now – 10/1 
My response to my partner’s inquiry over when I’m going to finally start the washing up. Also sounds like a Bradley Walsh game show. The equine version is trained by Ted Walsh, who knows how to win a Nash, owned by JP McManus, who knows how to win a Nash, and fancied by many pundits.

Potters Corner – 18/1  
One to back if you’re a fan of the excellent The Great Pottery Throw Down, Welsh (as he’s trained in Wales) or you backed him when he won the Welsh National over Christmas.

Dounikos – 50/1 
Ah, now, if you’ve got him in a sweepstake you might be in bother. He’s pulled up on three of his last four starts and you’re looking for the biggest shock in VGN history for him to win. To be fair, that’s only four years.

Kildisart – 50/1 
Like Alan Partridge before him, he bounced back to run a screamer when second at the Cheltenham Festival. A possible player but virtual Daryl Jacob prefers Bristol De Mai and he might be a good judge. We’ll check with the real Daryl Jacob.

Death Duty – 50/1 
Was a very good horse in his yoof but off for over two years before returning to the fray in January. Gradually returning to form and part of the Gordon Elliott massive.

Ramses De Teille – 66/1 
He’s grey in the real world and I presume in the virtual one too. He’s very talented in the real world and will be in the virtual one too. Didn’t complete last year’s real Nash but don’t rule him out here.

Valtor – 66/1 
Another one the virtual Daryl Jacob could have ridden. He did ride him in the real Nash last year, finishing 18th, and he’d be a shock winner as surely virtual Daryl got the real Daryl on Zoom before choosing.

Saint Xavier – 66/1 
The real David Maxwell would struggle to do 10st 4lb but it’s not a problem for the virtual one. If you’re fans of Spanish Roman Catholic Saints this one’s for you. Not the easiest to make a case for if you’re not.

Warriors Tale – 80/1 
He’s trained by Paul Nicholls, which is a positive for any horse, but he’s pulled up in the last two real Nationals, which is a negative for any horse.

Double Shuffle – 100/1 
Dad dancers at weddings head this way, but this fellow will have to quickstep a little faster than when 12th in the real Nash last year.

Kimberlite Candy – 16/1 
This one is a huge player. He won the Classic Chase at Warwick, has form that is working out really well and is another in the famous McManus silks.

Walk In The Mill – 16/1 
Aintree specialist and fourth in the virtual Nash last year. He might be the the last one to sneak in the race but could well reward those who are prepared to scroll all the way down to the bottom. If you’ve got this far down our pinstickers’ guide, we thank you.

Now read

No, this isn’t boxing or MMA… esports is muscling in

How the mastermind of Bet365 changed how we consume sport – and not for the better

10 coolest things to do from home right now

Source link

Written by Angle News

Leave a Reply

Coronavirus US: Unemployment could soar to 20m in a month

Diane Kruger joyfully holds her 16-month-old daughter on a stroll amid coronavirus pandemic