Hydra Industries-owned Inspired Gaming has struck a partnership with UK racetrack operator the Jockey Club to launch a selection of virtual sports titles based on the iconic handicap steeplechase The Grand National.

The supplier will work with Manchester-based Carm Productions and the Jockey Club to create a range of games themed around the event, bringing some iconic winners back to life.

First run in 1839, the race is the most valuable jump race in Europe with a prize pool of £1m in 2016. It is held at the Aintree Racecourse on Merseyside.

The games will include the course's famous features, such as the Becher's Brook jump, the Canal Turn and The Chair.

Legendary past winners will also be recreated for an annual Virtual Grand National Race of Champions, where some of the greatest horses will run against one another. This will be held to coincide with the real-world race, and broadcast before its start.

A second annual feature race will also be released, where the horses competing in the actual event will be featured in The Virtual Grand National. Inspired plans to use the current form and odds to create a full 3D representation of the event, and run it hours before the real event begins.

"The Race of Champions will capture the imagination of the millions of people who love the Grand National and it will allow them to pore over the form, the odds and the achievements of these exceptional horses of yesteryear at their peak and those of today," Aintree managing director John Baker said.

"We found the opportunity to bring these greats 'back to life' simply irresistible and I hope The Race of Champions and The Virtual Grand National will become a big feature in the build up to the 'real' races every year from 2017."

The deal sees Aintree become the first UK racecourse to be featured daily in Inspired's virtual horse racing content. The new branded games will be streamed to online and mobile players, and broadcast into betting shops through the supplier's network of partners.

"Inspired's virtual races are seen in over 50,000 outlets worldwide and have become a key part of sports betting globally. The introduction of the most famous course, Aintree, into this virtual world enables us to offer our customers a unique product which will clearly differentiate us from other providers in the sector," said Steve Rogers, Inspired's chief commercial officer for digital games.

"Seeing 41 virtual horses thundering around the famous Aintree course in Ultra HD with complete flexibility over camera positions promises to be something very special, and we are delighted to be a part of this collaborative project with Carm Productions and the Jockey Club."


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