With a 106-point annual profit, Daily Bargain made it back-to-back successes in the Besttipping Challenge. Steve Jones’ value-based service dominated the year, and despite a small December loss, there were to be no last-ditch slip-ups. Mark Your Card finished second with a creditable 2020 return of 42.9-points, ahead of Personal Info Saturday Only, Personal Info and Probets.

Daily Bargain’s triumph was a fourth success in the challenge, equalling the record of Mark Your Card, who claimed three successive victories between 2014 and 2016, before adding a fourth title in 2018.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of Daily Bargain’s success was the sense of continuity that was achieved during this tumultuous year. As other services fell by the wayside during the chaos that ensued as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and the subsequent lockdown, Daily Bargain was able to readjust to changing circumstances. For two months, Jones turned his attention to the Australian scene. And, although this period saw a slight dip in strike-rate, there was no hiding place. Already leading the table when lockdown happened, Daily Bargain was still on top when UK racing resumed at the end of May.

Mark Your Card did not go down without a fight; a productive August, saw MYC sneak into a narrow lead in the overall table, but the next three months were dominated by Daily Bargain. During this three-month period a 66.5-points were earned, meaning that December dawned with Mark Your Card looking for a miracle, being almost 60 points adrift.

Clan Legend’s victory at Aintree on 5 December gave hope. A 20/1 advice, Clan Legend reduced the deficit, while the each-way return from 80/1 Clemencia at Cheltenham six days later made a further dint in Daily Bargain’s lead, but from there on in the results failed to go Mark Your Card’s way.

Daily Bargain had started December with a win as 7/1 advice Beauty Stone prevailed at Wolverhampton. Richard R H B (15/2) secured a second December success for Daily Bargain at the same venue, six days later. There were no further winners, which meant a low-key 3.5-point loss was recorded but the overall profit for 2020, 106 points was actually 0.2 points more than last year’s final tally. It means that Daily Bargain has now posted profits of 100-points or more in seven of the last nine years, a statistic that speaks for itself.

Although beaten into second spot for the second year in succession, this was far from a disastrous outcome for Mark Your Card, who secured the highest monthly yield of 2020 (March’s 40.1 points). Mark Your Card also took their all-time profit to more than 2,500 points since emerging from the Isiris stable in 2014.

With seven winning months in 2020, Personal Info’s Saturday-Only service equalled the record of Daily Bargain. December ended a run of four consecutive winning months, but the margin between winning and losing remains slim: a couple of lengths here and there make the difference and December saw too many selections just missing out.

Personal Info’s Mainline service also posted a small December loss. But here is a service with a remarkable legacy and an all-time profit of more than 1,000 points. That’s a tally bettered only by Mark Your Card amongst currently active Besttipping operators.

After six years of steady profits, Steve Jones’s second service, Probets, suffered a loss in 2020. Four of December’s 21 selections were successful, but, agonisingly, ten others finished second or third. With a modicum of good fortune, we could have been talking about a big winning month. Nevertheless, long-term subscribers will still be showing a healthy profit.

So, that was 2020; a year that tested us all to the core. Few will mourn it’s passing, but, despite the ongoing uncertainty, we have to look ahead with hope. Here’s to a healthy and productive New Year.