Potters Corner reaps Grand National virtual glory

THERE is something very special about a computer-simulated race that flips everything on its head, leaving virtually no room in the top four predicted at the Virtual Grand National for any one of them.

Run at the longest National Hunt course at 6.907km last Saturday (4th April) over two laps of 16 fences, the real thing was abandoned amid the coronavirus pandemic for the ITV Virtual Grand National that saw Potters Corner race to glory with odds-on favourite, Tiger Roll a distant fourth behind Any Second Now and Walk In The Mill.

The Christian Williams trained Potters Corner on 18-1 odds earned hardly a mention throughout the virtual race while heavily weighted favourite Tiger Roll at 5-1 seemed off form from early going. Piloted by the young Jack Tudor, Potters Corner moved ahead of Tiger Roll coming into the Elbow and the rest is virtual history.

“I am delighted,” said trainer Christian Williams about the virtual race. “It was great, and great to cheer everyone up in tough times. I think even people from outside of racing were tuned in.”

Bookmakers got into the virtual act with bets donated to the NHS in the UK and in Ireland to the Mater Foundation in Dublin through Boylesports.

“It was something for people to cheer on, stuck in their houses and it probably got a good viewing,” Christian Williams explained. “It was something to watch together and have a bit of banter leading up to it.”

Horseracing in the UK and Ireland and in many places around the world has been under pressure since being suspended because of Covid-19. The virtual Grand National clinch came at the Elbow for Potters Corner, who got out of earlier tight squeezes to win the real Welsh National and the Midlands National.

“Potters Corner stays very well,” said Christian Williams. “He won the Welsh National and Midlands National, and in the Welsh National they closed on him at the death as well so I had a fair idea they might do it like that from the Elbow. “I didn’t think they would let him past. He stays very well and if it is done on the computer and stats, I doubt they would let anyone outstay him up the run-in.”

The virtual victory, shown in a special programme hosted by presenter Nick Luck completed a National treble for Potters Corner after the Welsh and Midlands National races.

Tiger Roll, Grand National winner in 2018 and 2019, will have to hold on until next year before making an historic bid to join the renowned three-time Grand National winner Red Rum.

Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is Pynck.com’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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