What does NAP mean in horse racing?
If you are not familiar with horse racing jargon, you may be puzzled as to the meaning of NAP when highlighting a certain horse. In simple terms, a Tipster’s NAP selection is their best bet of the day.
The term “Nap” in horse racing originates from a card game called Napoleon, often abbreviated to Nap. The game has existed in England for around 200 years and there are variations of it across Northern Europe. The game also inspired the expression “to go nap” which is still used in betting parlance.
The term was adopted for newspaper columnists and tipsters to indicate their most favoured selections. The Nap selection is often used to determine the merits of various tipsters, such as in the original Sporting Life Naps Table. Journalists from a wide range of newspapers would provide a Nap with a league table carried over the entire flat or jumping season, based on a level stake.
Although The Sporting Life only exists online these days, the naps table is currently enjoying something of a revival. Contributors vary across a wide range of publications from The Racing Post to The Morning Star. The table now provides winning percentages, number of favourites tipped, current sequence and level stakes profit or loss.
Newspaper tipsters of the past would write under a nom de plume like Templegate, Robin Goodfellow or Kettledrum. Although there was no great prize involved, the winner of the Sporting Life Naps table would earn a certain amount of kudos. It also provided a bit of friendly rivalry between the leading sporting publications of the day.
The Morning Star’s resident tipster was known as Cayton and would invariably tip big outsiders. After several weeks languishing at the foot of the naps table, he could suddenly leapfrog to the top with a 50-1 winner. A case in point was 1989 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner Beech Road who defeated Mole Board and Kribensis.
Graham Rock was the last “Kettledrum” at the Sporting Chronicle before it closed in 1983. He went on to become the founding Editor of The Racing Post and appeared as a betting pundit on the BBC. He was also agent for champion flat jockey Michael Roberts.
Richard Baerlein of The Guardian famously told his readers to “bet like men” when Shergar was quoted at 12-1 for the 1981 Epsom Derby after his win in the Classic Trial sponsored by his newspaper. There are still plenty of punters who like to follow individual tipsters and head straight for the horse racing nap of the day in the sports pages.
What does Nap mean in Horse Racing betting?
There are no specific rules as to what makes up a Nap selection in horse racing betting. Most media pundits are looking for high profile winners, preferably at good odds. Many tipsters provide a selection for every horse race each day of the week. This can be up to 30 or 40 horse races in total, From this list, they often single out a NAP at each racecourse and a next best (or nb). NB is their second strongest tip, so a winning “Nap” and “nb” could produce a headline-making double for a newspaper tipster.
A tipster is unlikely to earn any rave reviews for tipping an odds-on favourite but winning sequences can generate interest. One newspaper in the 1970’s attempted the million pound bet, hoping to run up a sequence of winning horse racing naps of the day in an accumulator, usually odds-on. I believe they got to 11 or 12 consecutive winners before the bet folded.
Other contributors may just pinpoint a couple of their best bets and “go Nap” on one horse. Their nap selection is frequently in the biggest race of the day, even when it is a very competitive handicap. It is not unusual for there to be eight or ten different nap selections from different journalists in the same race, even more in the case of The Grand National!
Following the nap selection is certainly no guarantee of success but there are circumstances where it is worthy of extra attention. For example, It may be an important televised race day at Newmarket but your chosen tipster highlights a race on the all-weather at Lingfield Park for his nap. In this instance, the chances are that he has been following this horse closely and is confident that it has an excellent winning chance.
If you follow a tipster on a regular basis, you will soon discover a pattern in their selections. If they usually tick along with a few short priced winners and suddenly naps a 10-1 shot it may well be worth a wager. Some tipsters can come up with “dark horses” in maiden races or novice hurdles.
Besides the nap, there are many other phrases used in horse racing betting. A “drifter” is a horse that has gone out markedly in the betting market due to a lack of support. It is usually thought to indicate a lack of stable confidence in their chance of winning.
A “steamer” is the opposite, used to describe a horse that is being heavily backed down to a much shorter price. A horse racing nap selection for a high profile tipster is likely to see the horse’s price shorten dramatically. A nap selection from Tom Segal, Pricewise of The Racing Post, is almost guaranteed to shorten in price on the morning of the race. You are quite likely to hear this horse referred to as the day’s steamer if it is in one of the televised races.
Although there are no specific guidelines, it is a safe bet that the writer or tipster concerned has given special attention to his or her nap. After all, it is a great opportunity to promote their service or publication. The last thing they want is to see their name at the bottom of the latest newspaper naps table! It is a badge of shame, rather like the trainer or jockey with the longest losing sequence.