T echnically it was meant to be the 173 rd running of the world’s greatest race since the aptly named Lottery won the first in 1839 – but if Potters Corner, the Welsh trained ‘winner,’ of yesterday’s Virtual Grand National is to ever feature in Aintree’s history books he will have to turn up at Aintree and wins the real thing in 12 months’ time.
The Welsh National winner, a 19 – 1 shot who is trained on a beach on south Wales by former jockey Christian Williams and is part-owned by Welsh rugby star Jonathan Davies, was ridden by Jack Tudor completing an all-Welsh victory.
With the nation on lockdown, the Virtual Grand National on ITV took on a life of its own with a computer-generated Potters Corner coming home ahead of Walk in the Mill, also a – 1 shot, who stayed on strongly to reduce the gap to a length at the line.
Any Second Now, – 1, was third while Tiger Roll, the 5-1 favorite, who was seeking to equal Red Rum’s record of three wins in the race, was a gallant fourth after a rushed preparation.
There was late drama in the race though when Aso, who was several lengths clear at the time but has never won over than two and a half miles, fell at the second last.
Williams said: “We can’t even go to the pub or parade him round the village tomorrow! He’s actually turned out in a field with two foals because he’s a calming influence. I hope it’s good for racing that a lot People sat at home with nothing better to do watching it on television enjoyed it. ”
T he computer had 173 horses finishing, falling, four unseating their jockeys and an eyebrow-raising seven refusals. All jockeys and horses returned home safely.
Simon Clare, PR director of Corals, said: “It’s been a real success. In the absence of the Grand National or any other sport, the media got behind it and ITV put on a great show. Millions have engaged either by watching or betting which is what we were hoping for – its been a celebration of the National in the absence of the race.
“The average stake was £ 2 and hundreds of thousands were betting. I expect a couple of million people watched it. We will know mid-morning on Sunday how much has been raised for the NHS. Hopefully it will be big figures. ”
Prior to the Virtual Grand National, ITV screened a Champion of Champions race , in which Red Rum beat Manifesto, with Tiger Roll third.