Certainly qualifying as huge breaking news this week is that the legendary annual Kentucky Derby’s first-ever US Virtual Kentucky Derby spin-off recently attracted viewers to the tune of one and a half million in number as they tuned in to witness a superb victory by a virtual rendition of none other than champion-horse Secretariat, who was of course the very horse that won the race some 40 years ago.
Best of all is that the action wasn’t restricted to broadcasted viewing alone. Punters were actually able to bet on their choices of winners too, in the exact same way as what they would have done had the actual derby been run at Churchill Downs racetrack.
The virtual event replaced the previously cancelled actual Kentucky Derby event due to the ongoing global health crisis. This by no means seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of horseracing lovers across the country and true to form, they pitched up virtually in their millions in order to support not only their favourite sport, but more importantly, those directly affected by the global health crisis, since all funds generated by the virtual event were donated to charity relief organisations.
The virtual side of things was managed by Inspired Entertainment, the very same company responsible for the incredible success of the recent UK Virtual Grand National. Inspired Entertainment truly has engraved its name into the pages of horseracing and certainly virtual entertainment history – especially now that attempt number 2 played out in the way in which it did.
A man particularly excited about Inspired Entertainment having come to the horse racing party in the way that it did is Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen. The well-known CEO and horseracing enthusiast described the partnership between Inspired Entertainment and Churchill Downs as one that allowed fans to against all odds this year celebrate the Kentucky Derby in the safety of their own homes. What’s more, they were able to do so whilst experiencing the full thrill of the magic that is the Churchill Downs experience. Best of all however, said Carstanjen, was that the period leading up to the big day enabled Churchill Downs to properly promote the race in such a way that it ultimately resulted in the racecourse being able to donate funds critical to the fight against the numerous financial difficulties now plaguing people on a global scale.
The Day The World Won
And to say that Inspired Entertainment managed to successfully recreate a life-like experience complete with perfect replicas of some of the historically most famous horses to have set foot on the field at Churchill Downs would probably be the understatement of the century. What the Inspired Entertainment team managed to do was so much more than to create a re-creation. Inspired Entertainment created an experience.
Its an experience that was broadcast far and wide by leading sports broadcaster NBC, allowing everyone passionate about horse racing the opportunity to tune in to a truly traditional Kentucky Derby atmosphere and experience.
Inspired did so much more than simply bring horseracing into the homes of those who love the sport because at a time when spirits are naturally at all-time lows, being able to enjoy even but a few minutes of how life once was cannot be valued in dollars and dimes.
At the end of the day, everybody walked a way a winner. Churchill Downs got to continue celebrating an ages-long tradition, fans got to enjoy all that a traditional Kentucky Derby stand-off typically has to offer and the Inspired team got to make the best of a truly unique opportunity to showcase pure and absolute skill in talent in virtual design and engineering.
But the biggest winners – and this deserves emphasis – are those who now stand to benefit from the proceeds of what can only be described as an absolute labour of love.