The event was held instead of this year’s cancelled Grand National to raise money for health charities supporting the NHS during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The virtual Grand National, held on TV using random number generator technology to pick the winner, has raised £2.6m for health charities.
The virtual race was screened on ITV at the weekend instead of the cancelled event at Aintree. The winner, Potters Corner, was decided through an independent random number generator.
NHS Charities Together, which represents 140 health charities, is to receive £2.6m from the race, which attracted 4.8m viewers – 30 per cent of the overall TV audience.
The event could raise more, with gambling body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) asking those that took part to consider donating some of their winnings to charity.
“We are overwhelmed with the public support for the virtual Grand National and the support shown for NHS Charities Together,” said BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher.
“When the nation was in much need of some light relief, millions joined in the fun in honour of one of Britain’s greatest sporting events and helped raise a fantastic amount for our brave heroes in the NHS.
“The country is going through what is little short of a nightmare at the moment, so it was heartwarming to see pictures on social media of so many people enjoying themselves.”
The money raised has come through participants donating their betting stake to the charity through Virgin Money Giving. This was promoted through the social media campaign #MyStakeForTheirSake.
#MyStakeForTheirSake— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces)
Today we’re encouraging the millions of @RandoxHealth #GrandNational fans to donate what they would have wagered on this year’s race to help raise vital funds for the @NHSCharities ❤️
“We’re living in an unprecedented time where people coming together like this makes a huge difference,” said Ellie Orton, Chief Executive Officer of NHS Charities Together.
“We’re so proud and in awe of NHS staff and volunteers as they work tirelessly to save lives and we want to ensure their wellbeing is paramount too.”
In total the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal has raised more than £24m so far.
A survey by EY last week revealed that one in ten households are watching catch-up TV for the first time, as interest in digital TV, social media and online platforms rockets amid the coronavirus pandemic.