Friday, May 1, 2020

AI helping predicting horse race and ... AI race - Aintree !


Less than a decade after breaking the Nazi encryption machine Enigma and helping the Allied Forces win World War II, mathematician Alan Turing changed history a second time with a simple question: "Can machines think?"

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the world, governments and hospitals are being overwhelmed with an influx of patients. Under such circumstances, one of the key challenges they must address is managing their resources and developing care and hospitalization strategies that can prioritize the riskiest patients. This is one area where artificial intelligence can help, experts at Jvion believe. The company, which specializes in clinical AI, is undertaking a data analysis project that will inform COVID-19 readiness strategies and help hospitals take a proactive approach to manage patient populations in the inpatient and outpatient settings.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. But even in a recent oratorical competition on AI, most students related AI to Chitti, the robot in Enthiran and how things could go wrong, if machines were to think and act on their own !!

The Grand National is a National Hunt horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, England. First run in 1839, it is a handicap steeplechase over an official distance of about 4 miles and 2½ furlongs, with horses jumping 30 fences over two laps. It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1 million in 2017. An event that is prominent in British culture, the race is popular amongst many people who do not normally watch or bet on horse racing at other times of the year. The most recent running of the race, in 2019, was won by Tiger Roll ridden by jockey Davy Russell for trainer Gordon Elliott.

The next Grand National meeting will take place in 2021 following its cancellation in 2020 due to the coronavirus epidemic making it the first such cancellation since the end of the Second World War... .. will it be run in 2020 is the Q ! confused !! 

Have you ever ventured into a Race course – it is not simply madhouse, it is scientific dissection of predicting results.  Gamblers know that odds are heavily stacked.  It is not the best horse that wins always nor the best jockey – then how to spot the dark horse ?   There are too many variables and too many possible outcomes. Front-runners break a leg. Jockeys fall. Champion thoroughbreds decide, for no apparent reason, that they’re simply not in the mood. It could boil down to  “animated roulette.” Play for long enough, and failure isn’t just likely but inevitable—so the wisdom goes.  Yet it thrills !!


The US election result came as a surprise to many – the President-elect included – but not MogIA. The predictive artificial intelligence system out-figured most professional pollsters, calling Donald Trump’s electoral success. A rival system called UNU picked Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote, which she duly did, and it correctly predicted another notoriously difficult to call American race, the Kentucky Derby. Both systems  were scientific, systematic and analysed its results by listening to people. MogIA scans public social networks, while UNU surveys respondents, taking that human opinion and “amplifying” it into a system called “swarm intelligence”.  There similarly is AI Race Predictor which can give the probability of winning for every single horse in a race.  Which horse you choose to bet is your choice and could be influenced by odds offered by bookies.

So on a given day at the Indian Derby – it could % of probability of winning for Chaitanya Chakram @ 47%; Squanderer 37%; Vibrant Approach 13, Elusive Pimpernel 22%; Golden Glade 27% Budha Smile 41% - one need not place bet on Chaitanya Chakram which could have a decimal odd but Golden Glade offered 8-1 – one could be inclined to bet on the latter.

Horse racing is something like a religion in Hong Kong, whose citizens bet more than anyone else on Earth. Their cathedral is Happy Valley Racecourse, whose grassy oval track and floodlit stands are ringed at night by one of the sport’s grandest views: neon skyscrapers and neat stacks of high-rises, a constellation of illuminated windows, and beyond them, lush hills silhouetted in darkness. On the evening of Nov. 6, 2001, all of Hong Kong was talking about the biggest jackpot the city had ever seen: at least HK$100 million (then about $13 million) for the winner of a single bet called the Triple Trio. The wager is a little like a trifecta of trifectas; it requires players to predict the top three horses, in any order, in three different heats. More than 10 million combinations are possible. When no one picks correctly, the prize money rolls over to the next set of races. That balmy November night, the pot had gone unclaimed six times over. About a million people placed a bet—equivalent to 1 in 7 city residents.

Now read this interesting article in MailOnline – with the 2020 Grand National at Aintree understandably cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Virtual Grand National takes its place. Usually an appetiser before the main event, the virtual version of the world-famous steeplechase takes centre stage on Saturday.
Running for three years now the Virtual Grand National uses special technology to create a virtual form of the Aintree showpiece. As Aintree lies deserted, millions are set to tune in for the Virtual Grand National on Saturday.  The Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) revealed on Wednesday that betting companies will donate their profits from the Virtual Grand National to the NHS Charities Group to help in the fight against Covid-19.

Like other virtual racing, which happens all the time, the Virtual Grand National, deploys computer generated imagery (CGI) technology and algorithms to create a simulated version of the race. The technology takes on board form of the runners as well as their going preferences to produce a result.  The Virtual Grand National features 40 runners and the 30 fences, including The Chair and Becher's Brook, that make Aintree's race so special. Cause of Causes won the Virtual Grand National before finishing second in the real thing in 2017, Tiger Roll was victorious in both a year later and Rathvinden was first past the post in the Virtual Grand National and finished third at Aintree in 2019. 

The Virtual Grand National is pre-recorded and will be shown on ITV on Saturday at 5pm.  The TV special will feature the 40 horses and riders who were most likely to run in the Aintree spectacular on Saturday evening and will try to answer the key question in racing. The Gordon-Elliott trained Tiger Roll heads the field with other runners we witnessed at the Cheltenham Festival just a few weeks ago also in the line-up. Alongside Tiger Roll is Bristol De Mai, Elegant Escape, Top Ville Ben, Beware the bear, Peregrine Run, Total Recall, Story teller, Magic of light, Any second Now among others.

For this virtual race, bookies are taking placements but all profits made by major betting outlets will be given to NHS Charities Together, which covers more than 140 NHS charities. Bets on the Virtual Grand National could raise £1million to support the battle against coronavirus, according to research by GrandNational.org.uk.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd Apr 2020.

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