With the Grand National sadly cancelled, many racing fans will be missing their Aintree showpiece. But the wonders of the digital age mean we do have a virtual replacement which will take centre stage this year.
Ahead of the big race, as befits a National – here’s a pin-stickers guide to the big event. But before that, who better to hear from than Star Sports’ Davy Russell, the dual National winning jockey on none other than Tiger Roll:
Pick 1 – Burrows Saint (12/1)
Just like any race, especially a Grand National, there will be a certain amount of guesswork as to what can help find a successful winner. The virtual National’s runners will be made up of mathematical algorithms using data taken from the horses’ previous performances, and the race’s outcome will reportedly factor in age, weight, form and weather conditions.
In theory this means that the cream may well rise to the crop and past Virutal runnings have borne out this view, with Cause Of Causes (second in actual national), Tiger Roll (won) and Rathvinden (third) all winning as likely contenders for the race on paper.
There can be few better form chances than Burrows Saint, who travelled beautifully on his way to taking the Irish national last year. He was then a creditable fifth in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris and has tuned up with two satisfactory runs this season, finishing third in the Drinmore before easily winning a conditions hurdle at Punchestown, and should have arrived in peak form for a National bid. A weight of 10-10 is perfect, he handles soft and decent ground and for what it’s worth – Willie Mullins has a decent record in the Virtual National !!
Pick 2 – Kimberlite Candy (16/1)
Low weighted horses have done well in the race previously and one horse who ticks that box, along with prime staying and Aintree form, is Kimberlite Candy. He was runner up to Walk In The Mill in the Becher Chase, when he finished by far the best of any horse bar the winner, and in his only start since he dismantled the field in the Classic Chase. That wide margin victory (which has received boosts with wins from the second and fourth in valuable races since) earned him a 10lbs rise which has just snuck him in here, and ground, trip and hopefully fences ought not to be an issue. The longer trip might allow him to reverse form with Walk In The Mill and take a big hand here.
Tiger Roll obviously has a big chance, but maybe top weight will stop him and he’s also no value at 5/1 in this contest. Last year’s second Magic Of Light, who wasn’t herself when last in the Boyne Hurdle, could be a value option and winners of other Nationals have done well in previous Virtuals, so Potters Cross needs considering.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Burrows Saint 1 pt each/way in Virtual Grand National at 12/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Kimberlite Candy 1 pt each/way in Virtual Grand National at 16/1 with starsports.bet
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 195.28 points
(Excluding Cheltenham 2021 antepost, Premier League ante-post, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials, Labour Leadership Contest, Cameron Brown Football Bets, New Hampshire Primary)