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Racing Virtual Grand National attracts millions of viewers

ALMOST five million people tuned in to watch the Virtual Grand National on Saturday afternoon.

With the real thing cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and racing on hold until at least the end of April, the computer simulation drew race-starved viewers in a special programme broadcast on ITV, with the race run at 5.15pm to replicate what would have been the actual start time at Aintree.

It proved an epic renewal, with the Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner (18-1) clinging on with teenage rider Jack Tudor to hold off the challenge of Walk In The Mill on the run from the Elbow.

ITV said almost a third of all viewers watched the race, with the show peaking at 4.8 million — 30 per cent of the overall TV audience. Across the programme, an average of 4.3m — a 28 per cent audience share — were watching.

Last year’s virtual race, run as a precursor to the main event, was watched by 737,000 people and the actual Grand National by nearly 10m.

Bookmakers had helped boost interest by announcing that profits would be donated to NHS Charities Together, the umbrella organisation that represents over 140 NHS charities.

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