Given the choice between a bumper at Ludlow and the year's first hunter at Taunton, the bumper prevails.
"Kingsmere goes in first having suggested over fences last time that he’s ready to return to form, while Henri Parry Morgan ran just about a career-best last time and remains relatively unexposed."
13:30 - With a fair amount of potential arriving from the Flat, this juvenile is no place to get cute. Therefore Golden Spear, who looked set to place when slipping and falling late on at Wetherby on his hurdling debut, is passed over in favour of Swivel, who finished third in a stronger race at Kempton on the same day.
14:00 - With New Year's Eve having attitude problems that ultimately held him back over hurdles, he's left alone on his first start over fences. Instead we'll take Sir Valentino, who has already built up a solid profile in this sphere and who is known to be well-suited to the test of speed Ludlow provides.
14:30 - Seven runners and a fairly deep field mean we'll have to take two in this leg. Kingsmere goes in first having suggested over fences last time that he's ready to return to form, while Henri Parry Morgan ran just about a career-best last time and remains relatively unexposed.
15:00 - Father Edward's tendency to find little off the bridle over shorter makes for a concern now he's been hiked in trip. That leaves us with little choice but to bank on Horsehill, who made a promising debut under Rules (won last of four starts in Irish maiden points) over this C&D.
15:30 - This is a tricky little race, with conditional/amateur jockeys adding another layer of complexity. Conditional of the moment Jamie Bargary is on Auldthunder and that one is evidently handicapped to win having unseated rider at the last with the race at his mercy last time. Kings Apollo also makes the grade, being relatively consistent and one of only a couple of front-runners in this race.
16:00 - The good thing about bumpers on the Placepot is they often provide a cheap way through what tends to be the last leg. Surtee du Berlais is our golden ticket here after she finished second to a promising Paul Nicholls-trained mare on her debut a couple of months back. That an unraced Henderson charge (Clemency) may get favouritism ahead of our selection is another positive.
13:30 - 9
14:00 - 5
14:30 - 2, 4
15:00 - 5
15:30 - 4, 7
16:00 - 7
= 4 lines