Trainer Christian Williams “loved it to bits” when Potters Corner won the Virtual Grand National and hopes it could be an omen for the real thing next year.
But the first thought of the man who trains Potters Corner and finished second in the National as a jockey on Royal Auclair in 2005 was for the joy the animated race brought to the nation.
The Racing Post reports that Williams watched the race at home in Wales with his wife, and children Tilly and Betsy, and said: “It was brilliant, we loved it to bits. We were going mad.
“It’s nice that racing has been able to do something like that and cheer everyone up. I’ve had hundreds of messages, including from people outside of racing who watched it. It’s brilliant that racing can bring a smile in tough times.
“I’ve got about 20 people to ring back – I’ve had the BBC and News At Ten calling me!”
Potters Corner, winner of last year’s Midlands Grand National, had won the Welsh Grand National in December.
Reflecting on the computer-generated version of the Aintree showpiece, Williams said: “He was a little bit far back early on but he jumped well.
“He stays really well but he idles a little bit at the end of the race so when Walk In The Mill was catching us I had it in the back of my head he might just stay on a bit close to the line, as the computer would have worked it out.
“I hope it’s a good omen for next year. I’m looking forward to giving him a nice break and bringing him back for next season.”
The real Potters Corner is out in the field as Williams said: “He’s such a kind, laid-back horse, he’s out with two quite valuable foals at the moment as they’ve not been turned out before and he’s a calming influence.”
Teenage jockey Jack Tudor is not currently qualified to ride in the Grand National but Williams is confident he would have secured the two chase winners he needed had racing not been shut down last month.
“He would have ridden Potters Corner because I’d have given him two winners before the race,” the trainer said. “I had two chasers that were capable of winning but racing stopped three weeks ago.”
Tudor also found the virtual race happy viewing and said: “It was pretty weird sat at home watching it with my family. But my sister Alice won £200 or so.
“It was exciting to watch, as it’s virtual you never know quite what’s going to happen, he might have gone through the wing at the last, it was all happening wasn’t it?It was close at the end but I’m glad we held on. And it shows he would have gone there with a chance for real.”
- Racing Post