Lee 14/1 to notch up century
Ben Linfoot picks out a best bet, a longshot, a horse to watch and a special to note ahead of today's action.
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Happy New Year: 2.55 Limerick
Though three Flat all-weather cards dominate today's proceedings it's the Irish National Hunt action at Limerick where we'll go for today's best bet. Happy New Year had failed to win a race in 21 starts before he went in at Gowran on Saturday but it wasn't that much of a surprise that he managed to break his maiden tag. His previous run at Punchestown was a good effort and he was very well backed at the weekend, going off at 11/4 in the end. He didn't jump brilliantly but had plenty in hand at the line, never looking like being caught after making all. Considering those tactics the slight drop in trip shouldn't be an issue and though he's turned out again quickly it could pay to keep things simple. Given he was 4lb out of the handicap at Gowran he effectively races off the same mark he and that means he's officially 9lb well-in. Available at 15/8 in a place, he looks worth an investment.
Apache Glory: 3.10 Lingfield
Apache Glory is a filly who hasn't covered herself in glory this season but there are reasons to think she might have a better chance than odds of 25/1 imply in the Lingfield Marriott Hotel & Country Club Handicap. Last season, as a three year old, she won four times over trips ranging from a mile to 10 furlongs including at Lingfield where she won a handicap off a mark of 65. Subsequent wins at Nottingham and Leicester for Richard Hannon saw her hit the heady heights of 84 but she's back right down to 65, 13lb below her last winning mark, after four pretty uninspiring runs for John Stimpson. However, by far her best effort recently came at Lingfield over this trip where she was a six-length sixth off a 5lb higher mark. And that was after chucking Liam Jones off in the paddock and being led to post. The very fact she is top-weight here suggests this is a weak contest and though the risks are obvious, from a handicapping point of view she should be considered as an each-way play at the prices.
Our Catching Pigeons column has been obsessed with an unraced two-year-old of Sir Henry Cecil's, Demonic, for a while now and the son of Dansili makes his debut in the 12.30 at Lingfield today. Mentioned in no less than four updates from the Pigeon after his work in Newmarket throughout the autumn, the half-brother to Phoenix Tower has been backed this morning and is expected to make a winning debut. He's by far the most interesting newcomer against what looks on paper a bunch of moderate maidens.
Graham Lee's transformation from Grand National-winning National Hunt rider to top Flat jockey has been a well-told tale and he can complete another chapter in his remarkable story today by notching up his 100th winner of the season. He's on 97 this morning with nine rides at Lingfield and Kempton, including Brocklebank, Serenity Spa and Harris Tweed who all have chances. With a few interesting outsiders too (Bajan Tryst is potentially interesting back on his last winning mark after four duck eggs), he could well get to three figures by this evening. Sky Bet go 14/1 that he does just that.