In recent years, horse racing simulators Inspired Entertainment have staged a virtual Grand National to coincide with the real-life world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree.

Pretty neat. What is the Virtual Grand National? It’s a simulation based on algorithms and probabilities that models the potential outcome of the actual Grand National Handicap Chase.

The 40 horses contesting the real-life race are digitally created and given their allotted weights from the handicap. This is a closely guarded secret and has been broadcast on Grand National day itself on either the first or second Saturday in April depending on when Easter falls.

Virtual Grand National Betting Sites

18+ New UK+IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min £5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x £5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. T&Cs apply,

*18+. UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards your average stake. One free bet offer per customer, household or IP address only. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.**18+. Opt in. UK/IRE customers only. Max refund £/€20. Win or win part of e/w outright singles only. 5 or more runners. 1st bet on each race. Free bet expires after 7 days. Free/void/antepost bets don't qualify. T&Cs apply

New Customers opt in, deposit and bet £5 at odds 2.00+ on Horse Racing within 7 days of registration; excludes cashed out bets. Get 3x £10 Free Bets, set events only at odds 2.00+. Free Bets expire in 7 days. Card payments only. Geo Restrictions. Additional terms for existing BetVictor customers apply. T&Cs Apply, see below. 18+ | Please gamble responsibly

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New customers only, min deposit and bet £10 (£20 if E/W bet) from UK Debit card only. Paypal not accepted. Min odds evens (1/5 per multi selection). 2 x £10 Free Bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned, no cash out. T&Cs apply.
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New customer only, max one £10 free bet, qualifying bets must be placed at odds of 2.0(1/1) or greater, paid as bonus token with min odds reg, T&C Apply.

Virtual Grand National 2020

As this year’s Grand National has been one of the many sporting events to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, ITV Racing have decided to broadcast the Virtual Grand National 2020 in its place. It’s not quite the real thing, but it could help to answer the what if questions that have stemmed from Aintree’s big day being called off.

The ITV Virtual Grand National will be broadcast from 5pm on Saturday, 4 April hosted by former Channel 4 Racing anchor Nick Luck alongside former jockey and pundit Richard Pitman, who is best known for finishing second to Red Rum on Crisp in 1973.

In recent days, it has emerged that each of the leading bookmakers will offer Virtual Grand National 2020 betting in lieu of the actual event. Punters are to be limited to stakes of £10 (or £10 each-way) per horse.

All profits made by the bookies from the Virtual Grand National 2020 are to go to NHS charities in recognition of the sterling work healthcare professionals are doing in the current climate. You can view the latest Virtual Grand National 2020 betting odds below.

Virtual Grand National 2020 Betting – Runners & Tips

You may be wondering how the algorithms behind the Virtual Grand National 2020 work. They simulate the race millions of the times with all possible permutations taken into account.

The broadcast race will feature the 40 most likely Virtual Grand National runners from this year’s real-life entries. What happens in the race will be based upon what had the highest probability of happening based upon the statistical and data driven model used to create the algorithms.

As Virtual Grand National betting exists, horse racing experts have been working hard to produce tips on the race. That has resulted in certain virtual Grand National runners who were fancied for the actual race also being prominent in the market here.

Tiger Roll

Tiger Roll is carrying top weight of 11st 10lb, just as he would have done at Aintree. He has won the real-life Grand National in each of the last two years, so what that means in handicapping terms here is that he is worse off at the weights with those horses who finished in-behind him on Merseyside in 2019.

Magic Of Light

Many Virtual Grand National 2020 tips focus on those particular horses. The mare Magic Of Light, who was runner-up at Aintree in 2019, is 4lb better of from their real-life meeting. On that form, Jessica Harrington’s charge has just 2¾ lengths to find.

Walk In The Mill

Walk In The Mill was fourth in the 2019 Grand National and beaten 16 lengths by Tiger Roll. He is now 5lb better off at the weights.

A bigger swing in the handicap for the Virtual Grand National 2020 involves Anibale Fly, who now meets Tiger Roll on 13lb better terms than when fifth and beaten 16½ lengths in real life last year. Away from previous Grand National form, Kimberlite Candy sneaks in off joint bottom weight of 10st 4lb.

Virtual Grand National 2021 OFFERS

For those of you wanting to bet on Virtual Grand National, the matter of offers is important. It needs to be stressed right from the start, however, that regular real-life horse racing promotions such as Best Odds Guaranteed aren’t going to apply to what is essentially a fantasy race.

As you can see from the list above, there aren’t many specific Virtual Grand National offers to go on. This has taken some organising from bookmakers and remember this is an event which they are donating all 100 per cent of their profits to NHS charities.

That is a major reason why you won’t see many Virtual Grand National offers available. What some bookies have been doing during the absence of actual sport to bet on, is offer general promotions that relate to their virtual action

A bonus such as a Virtual Grand National free bet may be available through availing yourself of a casino offer. Always remember to read the terms and conditions of these promotions, and ongoing general ones such as Paddy’s Rewards Club and other similar loyalty bonuses, to see if they apply to virtual horse racing and can be used to bet on Virtual Grand National races.

Past Virtual Grand National Winners

It is worth knowing what happened in previous renewals of the Virtual Grand National and how that compares with results from real life. In 2017, Cause Of Causes won the virtual race and then finished runner-up to One For Arthur in the actual race on Merseyside.

The Virtual Grand National 2018 results mirrored what went down at Aintree pretty well. Those algorithms predicted a triumph for Tiger Roll and he proved the statistical model right by scoring from Pleasant Company by a head.

Who won the Virtual Grand National 2019? It was Rathvinden who, aged 11, came a five-length third behind Tiger Roll and Magic Of Light in the real race at Aintree.

Although the Virtual Grand National 2019 results weren’t entirely accurate, they still threw up horses that placed in real life. You can view the first four placings for past recent virtual and actual Grand National races below: 


Virtual Grand National:

  1. Rathvinden
  2. Tiger Roll
  3. Jury Duty
  4. Anibale Fly

Real-life Grand National:

  1. Tiger Roll
  2. Magic Of Light
  3. Rathvinden
  4. Walk In The Mill


Virtual Grand National:

  1. Tiger Roll
  2. Chase The Spud
  3. Total Recall
  4. Houblon Des Obeaux

Real-life Grand National:

  1. Tiger Roll
  2. Pleasant Company
  3. Bless The Wings
  4. Anibale Fly

Best Bookies to Bet on Virtual Grand National

These are our best bookmakers for betting on the Virtual Grand National:

Paddy Power

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power have a well-earned reputation for being a bit cheeky and out there with their PR stunts. If you have a good sense of humour, this is one bookie that you will enjoy betting with.

They have virtual horse racing on a daily basis where you can bet for a straight win or each-way on Flat races, sprints and events over jumps. Depending on the type of virtual race, place terms vary between a fifth for three places and a quarter for four.

New Paddy Power customers can get up to £10 money back as cash if their first bet loses. Register and make a cash deposit via your card or Apple Pay, then place a qualifying bet and if it loses you will have your stake refunded as cash. Further terms and conditions, including minimum odds requirements, may apply.

Paddy’s Rewards Club covers and includes virtual horse racing. In order to qualify for a free bet, wager 5x £10 or more in real cash on any Sports, Lotteries, Virtuals or Fantasy market in a week. Each qualifying bet must be minimum odds of 1/2. Cashed out bets and wagers placed with free bets don’t apply. Terms and conditions apply.


As sponsors of big races at the Cheltenham Festival and the real-life Aintree Grand National meeting when it’s on, Betway have strong ties to horse racing. Their virtual sports section contains events each and every day where you can bet on winners, each-way and for top two and top three finishes.

Depending on the number of runners in a virtual horse race, Betway give either a fifth for three places or four places for punters wanting to bet each-way. Their current sign up offer for new customers relates to the casino only and is a matched first deposit of up to £250.

There are 50x bonus wagering requirements which apply to this. Your first deposit, which can be as little as £20, must come from either a debit card or through PayPal to be eligible for this offer. Normally speaking, Betway would have a sports sign up offer but have discontinued while so much action has been cancelled or suspended.

Their Free Bets Club applies to spending £25 or more on sports trebles and accumulators with each acca have cumulative odds of at least 2/1 each week. This is currently quite difficult to achieve but you can get 2x £5 free bets, although this does not apply to or is eligible for virtual sports.


Another bookmaker with history of supporting horse racing in the British Isles, Ladbrokes are also big players in online betting. They offer virtual sports, including horse racing each and every day.

You can bet for a win or each-way, plus forecast and tricast wagers on virtual horse racing. Place terms vary at Ladbrokes. If you do bet each-way, then you make get a quarter of outright odds for four places if there are enough runners, but also a fifth or quarter for three places.

Ladbrokes’ new customer offer is a bet £5 to get £20 in free bets when you sign up and place cumulative qualifying stakes of £5 (or £5 each-way) at minimum odds of 1/2. The offer is not available to those who make deposits via a prepaid card, Moneybookers, PayPal, Paysafe, Neteller or Skrill. Use the promo code 20FREE when registering to avail yourself of their welcome bonus.

There is no Free Bets Club at Ladbrokes, but you do get a free Daily Odds Boost to use on the event they are related to. The terms and conditions do not expressly list virtual horse racing as not applying, but not do they specify that it does.


As British bookies go, Betfred have a big reputation when it comes to horse racing and also football. They also have superb virtual sports service which includes offers specifically relating to them.

First-time punters on virtual sports can bet £10 on their On-Demand Sports offering to receive £5 in cash. This includes their virtual horse racing with minimum odds of 1/2.

For every £25 staked on scheduled virtual events (but not On-Demand Sports or Rush Go Games), you can get a £5 free bet. You can do this three times in the qualifying period, so that’s up to £15 in free bets you could receive if gambling £75 on virtual horse racing.

Virtual sports with Betfred even cater for big stakes punters. Bet £500 more on scheduled events in a single week and you will receive 5% of your total stakes back as free bets. This is capped at a maximum of £200. Again, On-Demand Sports or Rush Go games don’t qualify.

Full terms and conditions about these virtual sports offers are on the Betfred website. Their virtual horse racing events are ones where you can bet on a win or each-way. Place terms vary between a quarter for four places down to a fifth for three.

Betfred’s new customer of bet £10 to get £30 in free bets specifically doesn’t apply if your first bet is on the Virtual Grand National. It must be an actual sports bet in real cash at minimum odds of evens, and deposits cannot be made via eWallets or prepaid cards.


Boylesports are an Irish bookmaker who sponsor the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse and its Trial at Punchestown. They also have virtual horse racing as well as regular sportsbook and casino offerings. This is either Flat racing or National Hunt.

You can bet on a win or each-way, plus forecast and tricast options on the virtual horse racing. Place terms vary for a fifth of outright win prices for three places up to a quarter for four places.

New customers can get up to £25 in free bets when they sign up to Boylesports. A £10 stake in cash is required to get the minimum £5 free bet when you join. Subsequent free bets equal a 50 per cent average of each three qualifying bets, so you will have to place 13 bets in total to get the full £25 in free bets. Payment method restrictions and minimum odds requirements of 1/2 apply.

There isn’t a Free Bets Club at Boylesports and most of their offers for existing customers don’t apply to virtual sports. Money back as free bets if your horse is second to the SP favourite can only be used in conjunction with real horse racing events sadly.

Virtual Grand National Explained

We know that you may have some questions about the Virtual Grand National 2020. We’ve got the answers to some queries that have come into us since it was announced that the race would be televised. These should help you to better understand the Virtual Grand National.

Why is the Virtual Grand National 2020 so important?

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and in order to protect public health, many high-profile sporting events have been cancelled. This is not limited to just horse racing. Major football events such as the Premier League and Champions League have been halted. Grand Slam tennis tournaments such as the French Open have been delayed and Wimbledon cancelled. The impact has also been felt within horse racing with three Grand Nationals abandoned – in Ireland and Scotland as well as England.

The Virtual Grand National 2020 has taken on extra importance now. It is an opportunity to answer the what if questions that have arisen since the real race was called off. How would Tiger Roll have done under top weight? We’ll never know for sure, but all profits generated by bookmakers from Virtual Grand National 2020 betting will be going to NHS charities and these are very worthy causes at this difficult time.

Is the Virtual Grand National similar to the real-life Grand National?

Yes, it is. The simulated race takes place at a computer designed Aintree Racecourse complete with graphics of all the famous fences like Becher’s Brook, the Canal Turn, The Chair and Foinavon. Visually, it is very similar. In 2018, the Virtual Grand National winner was the same as the real life one – Tiger Roll.

Other recent years of the virtual race have also been pretty close to the mark compared to actual results. Cause Of Causes, who won the Virtual Grand National in 2017, was second at Aintree. In 2019, virtual winner Rathvinden was third in real life. The algorithms and statistical data modelling they are based on predict likely outcomes, but sport doesn’t always pan out the way a computer thinks in real life. The short answer is the Virtual Grand National is similar to real life but not the same.

Do horses fall in the Virtual Grand National?

They do, but one of the great advantages of the Virtual Grand National is that neither horse nor jockey gets hurt if they do take a tumble. Horses can also refuse, be brought down, unseat their rider or be pulled up

How are Virtual Grand National algorithms different from standard virtual horse racing?

The algorithms are based upon the official handicap for what would have been the real life Grand National. Standard virtual horse racing uses fictional horses, but the Virtual Grand National 2020 has ones from real life that are rendered to look as they would in the actual race. The data model will also draw on past form over the Aintree fences and in other recognised unofficial trials for the Grand National. These stats help to create the result.


We hope that you are now clued up on the Grand National Virtual race. It may not be the real thing, but is a very good second prize at a time when professional sport is being missed by many millions around the world.

Check back after this year’s race is run and broadcast on ITV at 5pm (17:00 BST) for the latest Virtual Grand National results. It should satisfy the curiosity of sports fans who were wondering what could happen had the actual real-life race gone ahead.