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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Three questions to help you unearth the winner of the Munster National

Gordon Elliott runs five in Munster National
1 of 1

4.45 Limerick
JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National Handicap Chase (Grade A) | 4yo+ | 3m | ATR

Which one of the Elliott team to back?

Winning Nationals of all varieties has become an enviable habit for Gordon Elliott in recent years and on Sunday he will field a team of five as he bids to win the Limerick version for the second time. But which one of his five-strong squad should we pick?

The betting on Saturday was not especially helpful in that regard, with little to choose between four of the trainer's runners towards the head of the market, with only Timiyan among the outsiders.

Successful with Tiger Roll in the contest two years ago, Elliott's representation features Alpha Des Obeaux, runner-up in the race a year ago and having his first run for the trainer, and Rogue Angel, an Irish National, Kerry National and Midlands National winner.

Elliott said: "Alpha Des Obeaux is in good form and, while he'll come on for the run, he's as fit as I can get him.

"Rogue Angel has run blinders on his two starts for us and was third in the Kerry National last time. He's in good form and has to have a good each-way chance." 

Alpha Des Obeaux: one of five runners for Gordon Elliott

Its All Guesswork will be making his handicap debut, while the ex-David Pipe-trained Our Father has been off the track for 1,382 days.

Elliott said: "Its All Guesswork is in good form and is another who probably wouldn't want it too soft. Our Father has been off the track for a very long time so we'll see how things go. He's been working very well though."

As for Timiyan's prospects, Elliott added: "A bad mistake at the first put paid to his chance in the Kerry National. He's well but wouldn't want the ground to get too testing." 

Can Scorpion sting rivals back up in trip?

Successful over two and a half miles at the Listowel festival last month, Black Scorpion represents local trainer Eric McNamara.

Kevin Brouder, who rode the three-time chase winner to victory at Listowel, again claims 7lb on the seven-year-old, who was raised 11lb for his four-length success last time.

He was general 9-2 market leader on Saturday but, while he has won three times over the distance, he has raced over shorter trips for the past 12 months.

His trainer believes the step up will be not be an issue and said: "He came out of his Listowel win very well and I think going up half a mile in trip will help. He's in great form and has a live chance."

Can Raz dazzle on seasonal debut?

Winner of the Welsh Grand National last season, 13-year-old Raz De Maree, who won this event in 2012 and has twice won the Cork National, returns for another campaign.

His Chepstow win in January gave trainer Gavin Cromwell, who enjoyed Group 2 success with Princess Yaiza at Longchamp last weekend, his most valuable jumps success.

The big question for those contemplating backing Raz De Maree at around 20-1 is whether lack of race fitness will be an issue for the teenager.

Cromwell said: "He's not getting any younger but he doesn't know that. This looked a good spot to start off his season. Hopefully they'll get plenty of rain."

What they say

Robert Tyner, trainer of Blast Of Koeman
Hopefully the ground won't get too testing. Going right-handed suits him. We're trying blinkers to help his jumping, which let him down and cost him a good prize at the Punchestown festival.

Tom Mullins, trainer of Spider Web
He's in good form and has a nice low weight. His jumping was erratic at Galway last time but he has schooled well since and if he puts in a clear round he should have a decent chance.

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Rogue Angel has run blinders on his two starts for us and was third in the Kerry National last time. He has to have a good each-way chance
E.W. Terms
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