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Emphatic Walsh secures 2020 Naps crown

Kevin Walsh of The Irish Post was the emphatic winner of the 2020 Napchecker Naps crown. He ended the year with an impressive profit of 39.1 points. In what was inevitably a challenging year, no other tipster posted an overall profit. Wise Owl of the Belfast Newsletter came closest, recording a 1.8-point loss while Racing Post Ratings took third position with a 2.4-point reversal.

Like a staying chaser who knowingly lets himself become tailed off in the early stages of a race, Walsh trailed the field in the initial exchanges, content in the knowledge that this was a marathon, not a sprint; by the end of March, he was lagging 45 points behind the then leader, The Guardian.

At the halfway point, when The Daily Mail’s Robin Goodfellow had taken over in first place, the Irish Post’s napster was still trailing by 45 points.

The third quarter proved to be critical. As rivals fell by the wayside, Walsh made stealthy progress, garnering more than 47 points during the three months from July. By the end of September, Walsh was in pole position. He led Robin Goodfellow by 13.2 points, and during the last three months of 2020, no serious challenger emerged. In fact, Walsh was able to win easing down; not even a small last month loss could jeopardise the victory parade.

The most striking feature of Walsh’s success was his relatively low strike-rate of 19%. The comparative figures for the last two winners were 28% (Templegate, 2018) and 43% (Marlborough, last year). Clearly this was no metronomic short-priced winner finder. Instead, Walsh sought out value and during the course of the year he unearthed some whoppers, such as 33/1 Unforgiving Minute (Lingfield, 24 November), 25/1 Another Angel (Newcastle, 3 September) and 14/1 Collodi (Southwell, 14 July).

Although never close enough to threaten the leader, Racing Post Ratings ended the year just one winner shy of an overall profit. There were plenty of nice priced successes with the wins of 9/1 Dark Shot at Southwell and 10/1 Publicist at Kempton on 31 August and 1 September proving the best.

Racing Post Ratings strike-rate of 30% was bettered only by one tipster in 2020, the Express’ Scout, who finished with a one-in-three win-ratio. But with prices cramped, Scout succumbed to a 13.8-point loss.

After performing strongly for much of the year, Robin Goodfellow, the Mail’s tipster faded away as the nights drew in. The end result was fourth position and a 10.2-point loss.

The reigning champion Marlbourgh came fifth with a11.3-point deficit. A 26% strike-rate, though not too bad in the great scheme of things, was way below what we have come to expect from the Telegraph’s naps guru. Perhaps this, more than anything else, showed that 2020 was a year to take punting chances, rather than go with apparent certs. (Remember Farrindgon’s speculative 50/1 nap Highland Reel, who won at Ripon back in October?).

Whilst an overall profit with all tips eluded allcomers in 2020, credit goes to Scout, who offset Christmas expenses with a nice 13.8-point December yield. Winners included Duke Of Firenze, who obliged at 20/1 at Southwell (11 December).

Another tipster in cracking pre-Christmas form was Rob Wright of the Times. He posted a 5.6-point December gain with Classic Tune (40/1, Southwell, 1 December) leading the way.

Date Published: 14/01/2021