- Race favorite Cloth Cap was the winner in the 2021 Virtual Grand National simulated race.
- The race was run for the fifth consecutive year and became extremely popular when the 2020 Grand National was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Inspired Entertainment–a big player in the virtual sports gaming world–produced the event.
Precisely one year ago, we reported extensively on the growth of virtual sports and their prospects for the future. Our expectation was that the COVID-19 pandemic would give them a big push and they would become more and more popular as a result. That prognostication was right on the money. Virtual sports have become a big deal–in particular ‘virtual simulations’ of major sporting events.
One of the more interesting manifestations of this was the Virtual Kentucky Derby that was broadcast on NBC in place of the actual ‘Run for the Roses’, which was postponed to September. The company behind the Virtual Kentucky Derby is Inspired Entertainment (NASDAQ: INSE), a gaming technology company that is especially well known for their virtual sports platform. They’ve done simulations for other major events worldwide including the Grand National, Lexus Melbourne Cup, and the Cox Plate. The Virtual Grand National has been especially popular and was run for the fifth consecutive year earlier today and broadcast nationally in the UK.
The result? 4/1 favorite Cloth Cap won an excited simulated race holding off Kimberlite Candy at the finish. They were followed by Any Second Now, Burrows Saint and Minella Times.
Brooks Pierce, President and Chief Operating Officer of Inspired, is pleased with the wide recognition his company has received for their virtual race production:
“We have gained worldwide recognition for our virtual events, which have continued to be popular even as live sports have returned. Last year 4.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the Virtual Grand National, broadcast in place of the real event, driving significant social media attention.”
Steve Rogers, Chief Commercial Officer, Virtual Sports for Inspired, talked about the technology used to create the simulated race:
“The technology used to produce the Virtual Grand National is a unique predictive offering that can be used for many other sports events. We utilize a vast array of data points, including historical performance of participants, within our software to seek to predict who will win the 2021 Grand National, widely considered to be one of the most unpredictable events in the world.”
Rob McLoughlin OBE, broadcaster of Carm Productions–the company that created the TV format for the Virtual Grand National–talked about the money it raised for the National Health Service:
“We are delighted to be working with Inspired on the Virtual Grand National for a fifth consecutive year. Last year the virtual race took center stage, as the live race was cancelled due to COVID-19, and the viewership numbers demonstrated the popularity and interest level in such virtual events. The public support for the Virtual Grand National and NHS Charities was overwhelming, as millions helped raise much needed funds for our brave heroes in the NHS by joining in the fun of one of Britain’s greatest sporting events.”
Here’s the video of the 2021 Virtual Grand National: