With Saturday’s big Aintree showpiece abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic, a virtual race was held instead with Potters Corner – who is co-owned by Wales rugby star Davies – winning.
All betting proceeds from the race were donated to the National Health Service, but former Scarlets and Bristol centre Gareth Maule – who co-owns Potters Corner with Davies – has urged anyone who won money on his horse to donate to the Cardiff-based Velindre.
Maule set up an online page within hours of the virtual race finishing and nearly £3,000 has been raised already.
“It was amazing to see how much money was raised for such a great cause like the NHS on Saturday. I would happily donate the virtual wins to a good cause like that,” Davies said.
“I was watching it in the living room with my fiancée. She was wincing when the horses were going down because I don’t think she could quite grasp that it was a computer.
“I kind of got into it but then at the end I was wishing I was in the owners parade ring and tackling it properly.
“It’s massively bitter-sweet and when the race finished I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“It was interesting to see and I think the situation everyone is in at the moment, I think everyone just enjoyed a bit of virtual sport.
“There are far more important things going on in the world right now than a horse race.”
Former Scarlets centre Maule added: “The nation was gripped by the Virtual Grand National. I had hundreds of texts after the race and so did Jonathan and the rest of the owners.
“What started as a bit of fun and something to provide entertainment for the country with no sport on at the moment quickly became a chance to do something for a good cause.
“The race reached a large audience and what I’ve said is if you won some money on Potters – who is a well-followed horse and was 18/1 – it would be great if you can make a donation.
“A lot of people sent me their betting slips so I thought it would be nice to try and do some fundraising as an ownership group.
“If there is ever a chance to get someone to donate £10 to charity, it’s now. Before we knew it we had £2,500 in the account.
“We’ve all donated and I could gauge the race had been well received in Wales. I thought it was a golden opportunity we couldn’t miss.”
Former Wales centre Matthew J Watkins passed away last month after a long battle with cancer and had been treated at Velindre.
“Matthew was a former team-mate and opponent of Jonathan and I and he had amazing support from Velindre,” Maule said
“With Potters being a Welsh winner, it made sense to support a Welsh charity as well as acknowledging all the work the NHS are doing for the country right now.”
Davies, Maule and the other eight co-owners of Potters Corner have all donated despite many of them having had their businesses hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They received no prize money for their horse’s virtual success and while it was cause for cheer, it has left Maule wondering what might have been.
Potters Corner had been one of the leading fancies for the Grand National proper prior to its postponement. The virtual race was based on algorithms and is said to be very accurate. So, would the Christian Williams-trained 10-year-old have won the real Grand National had it been run?
Davies, Maule, Williams and the horse’s young jockey – 17-year-old Jack Tudor – will have to wait until April 2021 to find out. “The Virtual Grand National is proven to be very accurate,” Maule said.
“It was completely virtual, but for five minutes afterwards there was euphoria and happiness and then we ended up thinking ‘What if?’
“The fact it’s proven to be accurate has left us with a bizarre feeling. You do think what have we potentially missed out on.”