The term “nap” is derived from the 19th century British card game Napoleon, or “Nap” for short. Napoleon is a simple bidding and trick-taking game, similar to whist, in which each player is dealt five cards from a standard 52-card deck. Players take it in turns to make one bid, naming the number of tricks to be won. By bidding “five”, or “nap”, a player undertakes to win all five tricks.
Thus, the phrase “nap hand” has slipped into common racing parlance as meaning either a sequence of five winning points, victories, etc in a game or sport, or a position in which there is a very good chance of success if a risk is taken.
In horseracing terms, a nap is simply a horse that, in the opinion of a tipster, is the most likely to win a race on any given day, or at any given meeting. Many racing correspondents from specialist racing publications, such as the Racing Post, and daily newspapers publish a daily nap, but it’s important to remember that the fact a horse is napped by one or more correspondents doesn’t, in any way, improve its chances of winning.
A look at the Racing Post Naps Table may help you to establish the consensus of opinion on the best bet(s) of the day, but it is, after all, just opinion. If you look at the Racing Post Naps Table, you’ll notice that about two-thirds of the correspondents listed have recorded a level stakes loss, in some cases a substantially so, with their nap selections during the current season. In other words, the fact that a certain correspondent or tipster naps a certain horse is only really of any worth if you value the opinion of the person concerned.
The nature of horseracing dictates that all correspondents or tipsters will have winning and losing runs, so the only real way to validate any of them is to proof their nap selections, on paper, for several months. Once you have at least a hundred selections, you can perform proper statistical analysis, such as calculating the probability of negative return, to determine the likelihood of making a profit by betting on them. Obviously, this approach requires discipline and patience, but it is really the only way to determine if the word “nap” alongside a selection actually means anything at all.