CLOTH CAP will hope to complete a twin peak in the main event on Saturday – after winning a thrilling Virtual Grand National.
The 4/1 favourite for Aintree came on strong over the final two fences and held off Kimberlite Candy for a sweet victory that augurs well – as the online race has been an impressive predictor of the real thing.
Four years ago Tiger Roll did the online and offline double.
And most famously the simulated race was a popular stand-in for the live contest last year when horse racing – and indeed all sport – fell foul of the coronavirus pandemic.
On that occasion the Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner won that 40-horse virtual race – with 4.8million fans watching from home.
More importantly, the simulated contest has raised more than £3million for the NHS since 2017.
Before this year’s main virtual race, Aldaniti impressively won the Race of Champions, having won the actual Aintree event in 1981 when famously ridden by cancer-beating jockey Bob Champion.
This time, Any Second Now, a 10/1 shot on Saturday, turned a solid first half of the race into an impressive one – once it found the inside line as the field thinned.
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Talkischeap and Potter’s Corner pressed intently before Milan Native took the front.
In fact, Potter’s Corner threatened until the final fence by which time Jonjo O’Neill-trained Cloth Cap had slowly but convincingly clawed his way to the front.
Despite briefly stuttering in the final sprint he held off Kimberlite Candy for what many think could a pretty accurate dress rehearsal for Saturday, when he will be ridden by Tom Scudamore.
Any Second Now was third, with Saturday’s 8/1 second favourite Burrows Saint fourth, ahead of Minella Times.