ORDRE DE BATAILLE represents a trainer with a very healthy strike-rate at Ludlow and is taken as the best bet from this modest bunch; Shindig and The Hollow Bottom have both hinted at a revival of late and can make a fist of things, while Nelson will be suited by the conditions and makes some appeal despite having struggled at this level in the past. That said, Nelson had been in great form prior to unseating Michael Murphy at Uttoxeter nine days ago and, as Alex Merriam knows him well, he is no forlorn hope in this company. The Hollow Bottom has plenty of respectable course form to his name and, with his yard going great guns; he has to make the shortlist. However, he does need to turn back the clock and there is a large element of risk attached where his will to win is concerned. Shindig won over this trip in Ireland earlier in his career and, given trainer Tim Vaughan's reputation with other people's cast-offs, this fellow shouldn¿t be underestimated. Strong support in the betting market would be a dangerous to ignore. However, Ordre De Bataille, whose yard won this race last year, is expected to be a lot sharper after his reappearance last month. A glance at his statistics suggests he is the type to improve for a run and now may be the time to side with the Henry Daly-trained top weight.
Ordre de Bataille (FR) 7-2 (11-6) Held up in rear, headway 5 out, every chance 2 out, one pace flat, 3rd of 6, 10l behind Oscar Bay (11-9) at Stratford 2m 5f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gf in Oct.
The Hollow Bottom 5-1 (11-5) Tracked leader, blundered 4th, weakened from 3 out, 6th of 11, 39l behind Frankie Figg (11-3) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gs in Oct.
Just Smudge 9-2fav (10-8) Tracked leaders, ridden and weakened after 3 out, pulled up before last, in a race won by That's Rhythm (11-8) at Bangor 3m hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft, 10 ran.
Ballinderry Park (FR) 14-1 (11-1) Held up in rear, headway approaching 5th, lost place approaching 7th, no impression after, 7th of 11, well behind Take The Breeze (11-1) at Exeter 2m 1f beg chs (4) sft.
Tyup Pompey (IRE) 40-1 (10-0) Behind, mistake 4th, pulled up before next, in a race won by Fit To Drive (10-10) at Worcester 2m hcp chs 0-135 (3) gd in Sep, 13 ran.
Shindig 16-1 (11-12) Mid-division, 6th 4 out, moderate 5th approaching straight, soon no extra, 8th of 12, 39l behind Narquois (11-12) at Gowran Park 2m 1f beg chs gf in Oct.
Nelson (FR) 8-1 (10-12) Blundered and unseated rider 1st, in a race won by Buffalo Bob (10-9) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) hvy, 13 ran.
Prince Massini (IRE) 10-1 (11-11) Soon tailed off in rear, never travelling, appeared to try to refuse 9th and soon pulled up after 10th, in a race won by Like A Duke (11-12) at Warwick 2m 4f hcp chs 0-110 (4) gd, 10 ran.