The Virtual Grand National, held in lieu of the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree, was watched live by peak of 4.8 million on Saturday 4th April, while the event also saw £2.6 million raised for NHS Charities Together.
The event, which was broadcast live on ITV in the slot originally reserved for the Grand National, saw 18-1 shot Potters Corner win the race. Bookmakers, who took bets on the virtual race, paid out to winners who had backed Potters Corner, but donated the rest of their takings to the NHS charities.
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Overall, ITV said the average viewing figures hit 4.3 million, with an overall 28% audience share. The 4.8 million peak audience represented a high of 30% of the total TV audience, according to the free-to-air broadcaster. In comparison, last year’s virtual race was watched by 773,000, but the Grand National attracted a TV audience of 10 million.
The Betting and Gaming Council (The BGC) says profits from bets placed in Ireland will be donated to Irish charities such as the Irish Red Cross.
Michael Dugher CEO of The BGC said: "I am proud that so many BGC members, up and down the country, are supporting in so many different ways the national effort to combat COVID-19, including here by contributing all of their race profits to NHS Charities Together.
"I'm sorry we couldn't have the real Grand National to find out if Potters Corner would have won or whether it would have been an historic three in a row for Tiger Roll, but at this time of need the nation used the day to come together and back our NHS.
"It's also fantastic that The Jockey Club will be donating 10,000 tickets to the NHS and social care sector in Merseyside for the first day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree."