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Marlborough, winner of the 2019 Napchecker naps challenge, regained the title in 2021, coming from a lowly position to win with something in hand.

The Daily Telegraph’s senior tipster finished the year with a 28.2-point profit, which was more than 12 points more than runner-up, Farringdon (Morning Star). The Mirror’s Newsboy, who led for much of the year, had to settle for third with a 12.2-point yield, while, Templegate (the Sun), who kept Newsboy company at the head of the table for much of 2021, ended up in fourth spot with a 0.2-point loss.

At the end of April, Newsboy held a commanding lead of more than 25 points. Apart from a brief period when Templegate, took over, Newsboy remained in pole position until September, when the gas began to run out of the Mirror Man’s engine.

September ended with Newsboy still clear, but the lead was down to less than ten points. At that point, few would have considered Marlborough (50 points behind the leader) as anything other than an also-ran. A month later, Marlborough was up to fourth, but still almost 20 points behind Newsboy.

Time was running out, but November proved to be decisive. With Newsboy haemorrhaging more than 20 points, and with other rivals failing to capitalise, Marlborough’s 22.7-point profit turned the table on its head: from being tailed off a couple of months earlier, Marlborough was in front, and baring disasters, was assured of a victory that duly arrived without any last-minute alarms.

Perhaps Marlborough’s figures for the four quarters of 2021 best sum it up.

January – March 72 tips 9pt LOSS 24% strike-rate

April – June 85 tips 1.4pt PROFIT 22% strike-rate

July – September 89 tips 11pt LOSS 20% strike-rate

October – December 85 tips 46.8pt PROFIT 34% strike-rate

Total 331 tips 28.2pt PROFIT 25% strike-rate

During that dramatic last quarter, Newsboy recorded a 17.7-point loss, while Templegate was down 18.9 points, leaving the way open for Marlborough to claim the coveted crown.

Credit also to second placed Farringdon, whose late surge was even more sensational. At the end of October, Farringdon was last but one in the table with a huge deficit of more than 70 points. But, what a transformation! The last two months saw an 86.4-point return with a strike-rate of 35%. Winners included 40/1 Rocco (Wincanton, 6 November), two 14/1 shots, Brian Boranha (Catterick, 19 November) and Copake (Wolverhampton, 13 December) and successes at 9/1, 17/2, 7/1 6/1 and 5/1. Sadly, for Farringdon, the year ended too soon.

From a position of strength: 13 points clear of the field entering the last three months of the year, Newsboy’s final finishing position was disappointing. Nevertheless, in ending the year with a profit, he achieved more than most rivals; much the same could be said of Templegate, who remained in contention for much of the year, before fading late on.

Of the other tipsters, Rob Wright (the Times), Racing Post Spotlight, Fortunatus (Sheffield Star), Glendale (the Scotsman) and the Guardian all enjoyed moments of glory, without maintaining a level of consistency that would have earned a top placing in the final table.

As usual, Irish tipsters topped the all-tips table for 2021. This is not to say they are any better than their UK-based counterparts, but because they normally only focus on Irish racing. Nevertheless, the Irish Times enjoyed the rare distinction of taking the top two spots with Brian O’Conner (-172.4 points) and Harvester (-213.7 points). The best of the British-based tipsters was the Guardian, who clocked up a 717.7-point deficit from 8715 selections. (O’Conner struck 1681 bets, Harvester 1042).

Significantly, the bottom three spots were occupied by the Racing Post’s triumvirate, Spotlight, Postdata and Ratings, who were the busiest tipsters in the business, advising more than 10,000 selections each.

As mentioned many times before, the figures quoted above are all based on starting prices. In virtually every instance, best odds figures offer a much higher return as diligent users of Napchecker will be aware.

For those who rely on the SP however, a selective approach is to be recommended, perhaps using the tried and trusted method of identifying tipsters who thrive when selecting a particular trainer’s charges.

Just a couple of examples. If you had backed all Robin Goodfellow tips in 2021, you would have run up a monster loss of more than 900 points. But by restricting your Robin Goodfellow bets to horses trained by Willie Mullins, Jonjo O’Neill and Nigel Twiston-Davies, you would have a healthy profit of more than 46 points, with an equally appealing strike-rate of around 40%.

And the ever-reliable Willie Haggas again came up trumps in 2021: Scout of the Express, Garry Owen (Daily Record) and Racing Post Ratings all made handsome profits backing horses from the Somerville Lodge stables with strike-rates again in the 40% region. A new year, but the same message: do your homework.

Date Published: 04/01/2022