THE Leader’s Charlie Croasdale holds a healthy advantage going into the final few days of the Racing Post naps competition.

The 26-year-old Chester FC reporter has a 22-point advantage as the competition draws to a conclusion this week.

It has been won in the past by the likes of The Times’ Rob Wright and the Racing Post’s premier tipster Paul Kealy.

As of yesterday, Leader tipster Croasdale has recorded a £1 level stakes profit of 52 points since the competition began on April 29 to lead the standings, with Racing Post Ratings in second with 29 points.

The Morning Star are in third on 20 points while former champion Wright, who led the competition for a long period of the summer, is fourth on 16 points, representing The Times.

The Leader were one of several local newspapers to answer the Racing Post’s approach for more regional titles to join in their nap table, which now includes 56 participants from regional and national titles.

The winner of the competiton will receive the Racing Post Naps Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday, with prizes down to third place, and it’s Croasdale who leads the way ahead of Thursday’s conclusion.

“Racing is the sport I follow most outside of football – and my ability to pick winners at decent prices led me into signing up for the Racing Post naps table,” said Croasdale, whose Tuesday nap is Hajaam in the 3.30 at Yarmouth.

“When they asked for more local papers to join in, I thought I’d give it a go as the very worst that could happen was that I’d not put up one winner and finish bottom – but I’d have still given it a go.

“It’s not a case of who picks the most winners, it’s all based on starting prices. So an even money winner only yields one point – so if you pick a loser the following day you’re back to square one.

“So I thought I’d stick to my guns and try to put up horses at double-digit prices, and it’s worked out well so far.

“If you select a 10/1 winner, you can have nine losers on the back of that and still be reporting profit – and that’s the way I’ve always tried to play it.

“My aim at the start was to finish up in a respectable position, mid-table would’ve been fine, and hopefully be in profit at the end.

“I never thought I’d stand a chance of being in the money, and never dreamed of having a lead going into the final week. Let’s just hope I can cling on in the home straight for Thursday!”

Croasdale has put up a host of big price winners during the flat season, highlights of which have included Zhui Feng (33/1) in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, Blue Hussar (12/1) at York and Lina’s Star (10/1) just three weeks ago at Newcastle which hauled him into a commanding lead.

“It can be frustrating tipping to SP, if you put a horse up at a decent price but it gets heavily backed,” he explained.

“But it can work the other way, Lina’s Star was 3/1 when I put her up at Newcastle, she drifted to 10/1 at the off. I roared that one home!

“Zhui Feng was massive. I was on a bad losing run at the time but stuck to my principles and landed the winner in a 30-runner handicap.

“Short Work has won for me three times, while Hajaam is another who has won a couple of handicaps recently when I’ve napped him, just to keep edging ahead.”

You can read Charlie’s selections and his weekly racing column in the Leader every Friday – which is returning extremely healthy profits for the 2017 flat season.

You can follow the daily Racing Post naps table on the Racing Post website or via the Sporting Life website.