Master trainer Mullins one to keep an eye on in the Kerry National

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Whether it’s the Midlands, Limerick or West Wales, every area seems to have their own ‘National’, and now it is the turn of the Irish county of Kerry.

A busy week at Listowel racecourse reaches a crescendo on Wednesday with the 3m showpiece looking a tricky puzzle to crack.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes are making it that little bit easier to secure some returns by paying out for the first five home on each way bets.

Here are our three against the field for the contest from the Emerald Isle.

Balnaslow @ 16/1

When it comes to big jumps races across the Irish Sea, one man can always be relied on to have them ready, and that is Willie Mullins.

The champion trainer is seeking a third win in this race after back-to-back wins in 2005 and 2006, and relies on Balnaslow alone this time round.

The Gigginstown Stud-owned seven year old ran no sort of race last time out, and can probably be excused a lifeless performance, with previous form including a third in the Galway Plate and fourth in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham amongst the best on offer here.

Talented claimer Jonathan Burke takes off 5lbs, and is a young rider to watch at the moment, operating at an impressive 41% strike rate in the last week.

Expect a big run from this one.

Golden Wonder @ 8/1

This one is for those who love to follow the trends in these competitive handicaps.

Looking back at the last 10 runnings of this race, some pretty strong patterns start to emerge.

All 10 winners were second or third season chasers, and had run in no more than eight handicap chases, highlighting the importance of a well protected mark. Criteria the Dessie Hughes-trained gelding meets.

The Irish Grand National runner-up has also won over at least 2m3f, as well as contested a graded race, something nine of the last ten victors had done.

And while it pays to keep your chase rating down, there are no excuses when it comes to race fitness.

Eight winners in the last decade ran their final race before the Listowel showpiece over hurdles, and with Golden Wonder finishing second over the small obstacles last week, should be primed for a big run.

Muirhead @ 20/1

Grand old campaigner Muirhead cannot be easily dismissed. A top class hurdler, finishing fifth in two Champion Hurdles, and second in an Aintree Hurdle, his hasn’t quite reached the same heights over fences.

Nevertheless, he needs to be taken seriously in these big field handicaps. Although he has failed to better the third place finish he recorded in this contest 12 months ago, a 5lb lower mark ensures that he can be competitive.

The reunion with Paul Carberry, the last man to guide him to a win, gives this guaranteed stayer a real chance of challenging the principles, and is worth an each way dabble with Ladbrokes’ five place concession.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.