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Coronavirus: Virtual Grand National to ‘cheer up the nation’

Don’t throw away that Grand National sweepstake kit… because a virtual race will be held in place of one of the UK’s biggest sporting occasions.

The National, held at Aintree and first run in 1839, was cancelled earlier this month because of the coronavirus outbreak.

In its place, 40 of the runners will take part in the virtual version, which uses CGI technology and special algorithms.

It will be broadcast by ITV at 17:00 BST on Saturday 4 April – the day the National was planned to run.

The special broadcast will also pit Aintree legends Red Rum and Tiger Roll – who this year was bidding for an unprecedented third consecutive win in the famous steeplechase – against each other in a 40-horse Race of Champions.

“We want to cheer the nation up and ask the computer if history could have been made,” says executive producer Rob McLoughlin.

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