Doncaster is undoubtedly today's better jumps card, but the first race in particular looks so fraught with danger that we're going to swim in Ludlow's calmer waters instead.
"Bobby Dove himself has gone up 7 lb and has no excuse for not running well today- this track being similar in layout to Huntingdon and today’s ground conditions reported to be similar."
14:10 - Purely in form terms, there's every reason to think Utopian is a sure thing for this opening maiden hurdle, but considering it's his third run over timber following a two-month break we should really have a back-up option. Few of the others have much hurdling experience, though The Stout Italian was fair in bumpers and is essentially guaranteed to be fit after a spin at Lingfield last month.
14:40 - King Massini wouldn't normally be the type for a Placepot perm, but he just seems to have everything in place (trip, pedigree and a trainer who enjoys a lot of success here) for a big run on his handicap debut, so he's in. A more typical Placepot type would be The Fox's Decree, who can race lazily but gives his running more often than not and is evidently in good enough form to make the places.
15:15 - Despite the fairly large field, this is by no means a competitive handicap chase. Few are in great form or look to be ahead of their mark, while To Live is unexposed but probably still being brought along slowly. All told, it looks a good opportunity to bank on the improving Bobby Dove. He built on the promise of his previous run when winning at Huntingdon last month, pulling clear with Memorabilia, who has since won from a 4 lb higher mark than he carried that day. Bobby Dove himself has gone up 7 lb and has no excuse for not running well today- this track being similar in layout to Huntingdon and today's ground conditions reported to be similar.
15:45 - Thegaygardener can be filed very much in the King Massini category, but he's probably not for us in what looks a more competitive race than the second leg. Better Placepot options probably lie in the shape of the in-form Ultimate and Rowlestone Lad. The second named of that pair was an easy seller winner in the autumn and finished third behind two subsequent winners off the same mark as today on his last hurdles run, while his recent effort in a jumpers' bumper was good enough to suggest he's still in form.
16:15 - This is probably the toughest leg of all. Jupiter Rex is of course respected: he's won his last two and is trained by the currently unstoppable Venetia Williams, though with this being such a treacherous leg and him looking the likeliest favourite he could well carry an inordinate amount of the pool. Hazy Dawn, a second-timer over fences just like the favourite, looked to be given a sighter on her chasing debut last time over an inadequate trip. She was a consistent hurdler and is handicapped to go close if able to capture that level of form returned to a suitable distance. Our second selection is a risky one, but Power Pack Jack tends to save his best for when fresh and, following a three-month break, he's now on his lowest mark for some time.
16:50 - The closing leg is a hunter, but mercifully it's one of those hunters that we needn't get too bogged down in. In Bermuda Boy we have a hunter with plenty of form over C&D (placed three times) and with even better efforts looking back 18 months or so. He is possibly a bit shorter in the market than is justified, but we can take that hit in exchange for the convenience of finding a consistent hunter chaser.
14:10 - 8, 11
14:40 - 4, 7
15:15 - 11
15:45 - 1, 10
16:15 - 2, 12
16:50 - 5
= 16 lines
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