The 2020 service covered the period between 1st December 2019 and 30th November 2020.
We hit the ground running on the 2020 service, which began in December, mainly covering the all-weather but also betting on some of the big weekend jumps races.
AW winners included Harry's Bar (6/1), Fizzy Feet (10/3), Spirit Of May (9/2), Splendidly (7/2), Tawny Port (4/1) and Entangling (3/1), while the jumps winners included Defi Du Seuil (7/4), Call Me Lord (5/2), Epatante (4/1), Slate House (3/1) and Lady Buttons (3/1).
It was good to get some profit on the board early from 17 winning singles in December.
January was solid, without being spectacular, and we continued to steadily build up the betting bank before attacking Cheltenham.
The pick of the January winners was undoubtedly Salute The Soldier, an unfancied 14/1 shot at the Dubai Carnival at the end of the month.
Earlier winners that month included Katheefa (7/2), Reeves (4/1), Kaser (2/1), Wasntexpectingthat (7/4), Dancing Rave (7/2) on the AW and Jepeck (4/1), Lady Buttons (2/1) and Yala Enki (13/8) over the sticks.
We had another few turf winners at the Dubai Carnival too in the shape of Magic Lily (4/1) and Glorious Journey (5/2).
February was a bad month. Based on the prices of the bets advised we would have expected 12-13 winners during the month, yet we only managed eight - it goes without saying that spelt trouble for the P/L and we handed back most of the profit we had generated in the preceding two months and were effectively back to a level position for the year.
Winner wise, Instant Return (11/2) had won over hurdles but all of the other winners were short prices and around 2/1 or less - there wasn't anything of note.
As ever, though, when you suffer a bad month and make a loss, but are a long-term winner, things soon recover, and they certainly did that in March.
March is traditionally one of our most important months of the year, due to the Cheltenham Festival, but, as we are all now too aware, there was debate over whether this year's event would/should take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was beginning to gather momentum.
The Cheltenham Festival did go ahead and, in keeping with recent years, it was a superb week for NMP members - we chopped it right off and made a +44 pts to +38 pts profit on the month, depending on whether you obtained the highest or lowest prices for each bet, from a total of 42 pts staked that month.
We would have expected nine winners in March, based on their SPs, yet managed 15, as well as landing some lovely doubles.
Our Festival winners were Shishkin in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle (3/1), The Conditional in the Ultima (14/1), Dame de Compagnie in the Coral Cup (16/1), Sire du Berlais in the Pertemps (10/1), Simply The Betts in the Brown Advisory Plate (12/1), Concertista in the Mares' Novice Hurdle (5/1), Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (10/3), Chosen Mate in the Grand Annual (11/2) and, last but not least, Indefatigable at 40/1 in the Martin Pipe.
We also had a further 10 selections which placed for profit that week and landed several winning doubles which included Epatante in the Champion Hurdle (3/1), Honeysuckle in the Mares' Hurdle (2/1) and The Conditional/Epatante.
Cheltenham is one of the focal points of the entire year for me and a lot of effort goes into trying to maintain the highly profitable tradition for NMP members, so the results this year were very pleasing and ensured we were betting out of profit for the remainder of the year.
Outside of Cheltenham we had other winners which included McFabulous (9/4), Jetz (11/4) and Politesse (9/4), but the Covid-19 pandemic was starting to escalate by this point and towards the end of March both the UK and, later, Irish governments, introduced national lockdowns and horse racing was halted until the virus situation improved.
There was no racing in the UK or Ireland during April or May so our betting activity was significantly reduced this year.
The computer modellers ran another edition of the virtual Grand National, basing the race on algorithms based on real life form, so we studied the real life form and had a crack at the winner. We found it - Potters Corner won at 18/1 for a small stake, which was nice as every bookmaker offered set prices on the race and each firm guaranteed punters could get on for £10 EW stakes!
At a time of the year when everyone was making the most of their limited daily exercise time and hammering their Netflix subscriptions to kill the boredom (unless you are a fan of Belarusian Premier League football there wasn't even much football to watch and punt on), I also issued the odd horse racing bet from the USA to keep us ticking over. I have 10 years experience covering US racing professionally, so this was something I was au fait with.
I wasn't expecting huge profits from the US bets but they just kept us going enough to top up our profit by a further 12 pts or so by the end of May. French racing had returned by then, and UK racing was announced to return behind close doors from June, which gave us all something to look forward to.
We exited lockdown with +59 pts (to highest advised prices) and +38 pts (lowest prices) in the bag from 227 pts staked to the end of May.
I'm sure I wasn't the only person fed up during lockdown. My own personal way of coping with the boredom was to ramp up my interest in syndicated horse ownership and while stables up and down the country continued to ride out every morning, even if racing itself had been temporarily shelved, getting regular updates on my new horses kept me excited and on my toes for when the seasonal finally did resume in June.
On the second day of the season one of the fillies I had bought a small syndicate share in with Karl Burke and Nick Bradley Racing, Dandalla, was due to debut at Newcastle. The daughter of Dandy Man was 4/1 on the morning of the race and was easy to back throughout the day, returning 7/1 at SP. However, I ignored the market vibes as Karl had been reporting her to be working like a Group horse at home and I had plenty of stats to suggest she was one to side with first time out on Tapeta.
She won easily at Newcastle and then followed up later in the month in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, romping home by six lengths. This was a great result not only for me personally, but also for NMP members as I had tipped her up strongly for the Albany at 16/1 once I knew she was going for that race (and not the Queen Mary over 5f, which had been another possible target) and we had her backed in multiples with Russian Emperor (10/3), Art Power (7/2), Tactical (4/1) and Dark Vision (12/1), all of whom also won at the Royal meeting.
The way Dandalla won at Ascot was scintillating. With no crowds or owners allowed on track, I had to watch the race on TV like everyone else, and, just like Dandalla took apart her rivals in the contest itself, my wife took apart my jaw with her elbow as we jumped around the living room celebrating!
Other winners in June included Cap Francais (6/1), Magical Spirit (4/1), Red Verdon (7/2), Palace Pier (7/2, also Royal Ascot), Zihaam (4/1), Marshal Dan (3/1), Under The Stars (5/1), Delagate This Lord (9/2), Strong Johnson (7/2) and Wentworth Falls (9/2).
It meant if anyone had obtained top prices following the bets, they were already +103 pts in profit for the year by the end of June. Even if taking the lowest advised odds members were +68 pts up for the year.
With most members having already hit the +80 pt annual profit target only a few weeks following the resumption of racing, we were able to enjoy a relaxed year this time around - safe in the knowledge we'd banked significant early season profit.
Dandalla won again for us in July in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket (6/4) as part of a small multiple, while we enjoyed further winners that month in the shape of Camacho Chief (4/1), Aljady (13/2), Meraas (7/2), Rocky Blue (13/2), Zihaam (13/2), Ventura Rascal (11/2), Santosha (4/1) Royal Canford (6/1) and Queens Sargent (5/1).
We didn't have a particularly enjoyable Glorious Goodwood, with the likes of Kameko and Sir Busker enduring nightmare passages at a track notorious for trouble in running, though we did back Glamorous Anna (10/1) in one of the minor sprint handicaps during the meeting and our losses in July, which came from multiples (the singles showed a slight profit) were only minor.
We had a very good August and kicked back on immediately after. Staxton winning the Great St Wilfrid (8/1) landed us a strong single, while we enjoyed multiple returns from Max Oclock (another of my syndicate horses) winning on her handicap bow at Ayr and landing us a cracking double with Yafordadoe (15/8), who had been a massive hard luck story for us at the Galway Festival but had been one I maintained absolute faith in.
Other August winners included Audarya (11/1), Songkran (7/2), Certain Lad (10/1), Dean Street Doll (6/1), Harry's Bar (14/1), Ilaraab (15/8) and Amir Kabir (10/3), which took our annual profit to over 120 pts at best prices (and over 70 pts even to lowest prices).
In view of the rich vein of form the service had been in during the summer, it was inevitable that we would encounter a losing run at some point - form is cyclical and you cannot win all of the time. A sticky spell arrived in September and we lost circa -20 pts.
September actually started off okay with Abel Handy (11/2) landing us a strong single at Ripon and other winners that month included Hyperfocus (15/2), Strait of Hormuz (6/1), Nicklaus (17/2), Exceptional (6/1), Hesselwood (4/1), Mystery Angel (10/1).
Nevertheless, we couldn't continue assimilating profit at the same rate we had done over the summer and were knocked down to annual profits of +101 (to highest prices) to +50 pts (to lowest prices) by the end of September.
I wasn't sure how long our losing run would continue for and, in light of the then-reduced profit figures, I decided to cut the staking scale twice in October - first reducing it to 0.25 - 1.5 pts and, secondly, slashing it down to 0.25 - 0.75 pt around the time of the Arc de Triomphe meeting.
Many turf racecourses were winding down for the year at that point and heavy ground was the norm all across the country, so bankroll preservation was the short-term aim as we rode out the storm.
Results picked back up again in October.
The reduced stakes meant we didn't fully cash in during the recovery period, but the aim hadn't been to aggressively push for big profits on heavy ground - cutting the stakes had been done to limit the potential damage incurred from betting on testing ground.
We actually managed a few soft ground winners such as Dakota Gold (85/40), Traisha (5/1), Wrenthorpe (6/1), Lustown Baba (7/2), Brentford Hope (9/4), The Revenant (11/2), Round The Island (4/1) and Young Fire (9/2) but it was the performance of the all-weather selections which was most pleasing, given the all-weather will be our main focus over the winter months.
AW winners such as Lequinto (6/1), Light And Dark (11/2), Alhaazm (7/2), Goldie Hawk (5/1), Ela Katrina (10/3), Moving Forward (5/1) helped us move back in the right direction and put another +7.75 pts monthly profit on the board at best prices (+1.84 pts to lowest).
A notable November
With us enjoying another productive spell I decided to increase the stakes again in November, and we reaped the benefits of that on the final day of the Flat season at Doncaster when On To Victory (10/1) sluiced up under James Doyle in the November Handicap.
We had backed him in a strong single and also in a double with his Alan King stablemate, Sceau Royal (5/6), in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton that day.
We had some fun at Dundalk on the 6th of the month when Bucky Larson (6/1) and Harry's Bar (5/2) had both won on the AW (including landing us a small double), while we also backed the latter with Dermot Weld's Irish sensation Tarnawa (7/2), who won at the Breeders' Cup the following night and landed us another double.
Those victories certainly eased the disappointment of being denied a 30 pt return off Prince Of Arran at the start of the month in the Melbourne Cup. Charlie Fellowes' stable star had finished second in the race for us 12 months ago but was even unluckier this time as he was trapped behind a wall of horses at the top of the home turn and couldn't get to the front pair in time before the line arrived, even though he was finishing best of all - like an express train - from off the pace. He was beaten by less than a length into third behind a winner who had made all. How often does a horse make all in a Melbourne Cup?! ...... it's very, very rare.
With the turf season then over, it was the AW that supplied the majority of our bets for the rest of the month, with the odd jumps pick thrown in.
Good Effort (7/2) landing the Golden Rose Stakes was our main winner given the strong stake, though we also landed a couple of other winners in the shape of King Of The South (15/2) and No Nay Bella (10/3). We ended the month comfortably in profit, despite suffering a bout of seconditis in the last half of the month.
In November we would have expected 12-13 winners, based on the prices of the selections taken, yet we only backed nine. As well as the near miss in the Melbourne Cup for 30 pts we also had so many rattling the crossbar - Lequinto (x2), Yafordadoe, Spelga, Free Love, Merchant Of Venice, Surrounding, Plantadream (x2), Newyorkstateofmind, Exalted Angel, Kind Review and Combine all had to be content with silver medals at prices up to 14/1 - while we even had Khuzaam turned over late on at Kempton after he'd traded at 1.01 in running. The selections were certainly doing most things right, without quite getting their heads infront!
We still ended November (and the 2020 service) comfortably in profit and added to our annual returns, but the in-running data and the A/E figure for the month (both of which are reported back to members in the end-of-month results updates) suggest we were unlucky not to finish even further ahead for November....here's hoping the resulting purple patch which is forecast to follow arrives at the start of the 2021 service to kick us off on a winning note!
2020 End of year figures (1st Dec '19 - 30th Nov '20)
Total Pts Staked: 730.71 pts
Total Profit to lowest advised odds: +66.47 pts
Seasonal ROI: +17 % to +9 % (highest to lowest odds advised)
Seasonal ROC: + 158 % to +83 % (using an 80 pt betting bank)
Singles: +75.95 pts to +35.09 from 613.01 pts staked
Multiples: +50.61 pts to +31.39 pts from 117.70 pts staked
At the end of the 2019 annual review I said I would be logging two profit totals this year - one for profit to highest advised odds and one to lowest advised odds, as I have been underselling the true profitability of the service's bets in previous years by only recording them to lowest odds.
I have always been very laissez faire about settling to lowest advised odds because I know most members beat my profit figures and I'd consider that a USP of the service in an industry where many tipsters over inflate their records.
However, honesty can sometimes be taken for granted and I felt I needed some real numbers to back up my claim (based on member feedback) that most members can beat the lowest odds.
My service scored higher than any other Hall Of Fame service for odds availability in the SBC's horse racing tipster rankings, so it was suggested to me that I log two profit totals for this year - the highest advised odds figure would be comparable to those used by most other services.
It is thus interesting to have a full year's worth a results to compare now. As you can see, the profit difference between taking top and bottom advised prices for NMP bets this year was 60 pts, which is a huge difference and two thirds of a betting bank!
.....it is nice to know the extent to which profit totals for previous years could potentially be upgraded too!
As long as betting using bookmaker accounts, members should be able to readily beat the lowest advised prices because it is unlikely a member would have to take lowest advised odds on every winner that has been backed. The lowest profit figure is essentially a worst-case scenario.
Realistically, I don't think many members other than myself will be able to get top prices on every selection and match the top profit figure (though it may be possible those following a win only betting strategy have outperformed my own results), but I would like to think all members with bookmaker accounts are able to beat the lowest figure - the figures reported back to me so far suggest a +100 pt year was very much achievable for NMP members following the service in 2020 (as ever, you need bookmaker accounts to follow the service to best effect).
Here's to another big year in 2021!