The News Letter’s racing nap, Wise Owl, agonisingly missed out on being crowned the number one newspaper tipster in the United Kingdom on Friday.
Going into the final week of competition for the Corals-sponsored Racing Post Naps Challenge, Wise Owl led the way until the penultimate day.
Eventual winner, Derek Brown of the Coventry Telegraph had a 7-1 winner on Wednesday night which proved enough to snatch the Racing Post Challenge Trophy from the News Letter’s grasp as neither could get a winner on Thursday.
However, a second place overall finish for the News Letter was still impressive against 46 rivals from national and regional newspapers from a competition which has lasted almost seven months.
Wise Owl finished with a profit of £33.74 - £4.91 behind Brown and £6.07 ahead of the third placed finisher.
The likes of the Daily Mirror, The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express - and even the Racing Post - were left trailing.
News Letter sports editor, Richard Mulligan, admitted it had been an interesting finish to the competition this week.
“We have been in this position before and lost out in the final couple of days, so there is a bit of disappointment on the desk having gone so close again.
“We have been in the mix since we started with our £1 stake back in April – and as it is as long competition, there is no use peaking early. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“We sneaked into the lead of the Challenge on Monday after two winners last weekend, including a 10-1 shot on Sunday, Hawkhill.
“We maintained the lead right up to Tuesday, but Derek Brown selected a 7-1 winner on Wednesday and we just could not claw it back .
“Ironically, Vulcanite, our selection on Friday, won and if the competition had been one more day we would be the top tipster.”
Richard added: “I might end up selecting about 70 per cent of the runners over the period, but it is all about team work with my deputy, Gareth Fullerton having a large input assisted by Kyle White, Nicky Fullerton and Paul Kelly, all having a turn at various stages – we will have some sort of celebration.
“It is good to finish high up in the competition and importantly to us we were the best of the Johnston Press Group.
“We inherited Wise Owl after Norman Hamilton left the paper – he actually won the competition a few years ago – and that is now our aim after this latest success.”