Melon makes perfect start

Melon is the new 5/1 favourite with the sponsors for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle after making a good impression on his Leopardstown debut.

Ruby Walsh and Melon come home clear to win the Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown.

He confirmed his tall reputation by making a winning debut over jumps in the Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle.

The French import, trained by Willie Mullins, was already prominent in the betting for the Supreme before even having being seen in public.

Sent off the 4/9 favourite, he did not disappoint as he disposed of the opposition in convincing fashion.

Ruby Walsh sat in third place on Melon as the experienced Broken Soul made the running, before taking it up after the second-last flight

Though Melon made a mess of the final flight, it did not stop his momentum as he came home 10 lengths clear.

Walsh said: "He did it well. He travelled well and jumped well at a good gallop.

"He was a bit long at the last but it was a maiden hurdle. How much more we learned, I don't know. The only other horse in the race with form was the Gigginstown horse (Broken Soul) and he's beaten him. It was a good start.

"Talkers tend not to gallop, but thankfully he galloped today."

Asked if he could be Cheltenham material, Walsh added: "In time. He'd want another run."

Mick O'Toole, racing manager to winning owner Joe Donnelly, was not no sure though.

"You'd have to be impressed with that," he told At The Races. "To go 10 lengths clear like that was impressive.

"I don't think he needs to [run again]. You know what's going to happen in those races."

The man whose opinion possibly mattered most, however, was WMullins.

He said: "He'd been showing me this for a long while. He did a nice gallop in the autumn and I was afraid to do any more with him. We just waited and waited until he came right, and he's right now at the right time.

"He lacks a bit of experience for his next run, but we'll have to try and give him that at home. It will possibly be in the first race (at Cheltenham) in March. We have plenty of experience into him, and I thought for a horse having his first run he jumped very well except for the last. You would rather have another run or two.

"He's improving all the time as he gets fitter and stronger. I thought he looked very well today. Broken Soul made sure there was no hiding place for any horse today, and even at that good gallop Ruby looked under pressure to hold him.

"Once he's upped in grade they will be going a step faster, and he will be easier ridden at that stage."

"That was a seriously impressive start from Melon," said Sky Bet spokesman Michael Shinners.

"His reputation precedes him – hence the SP – but in a race which lacks a standout, certain runner, we've little option but to make him favourite at 5/1." Mullins said: "He'd been showing me this for a long while. He did a nice gallop in the autumn and I was afraid to do any more with him. We just waited and waited until he came right, and he's right now at the right time."He lacks a bit of experience for his next run, but we'll have to try and give him that at home. It will possibly be in the first race (at Cheltenham) in March. We have plenty of experience into him, and I thought for a horse having his first run he jumped very well except for the last. You would rather have another run or two."He's improving all the time as he gets fitter and stronger. I thought he looked very well today. Broken Soul made sure there was no hiding place for any horse today, and even at that good gallop Ruby looked under pressure to hold him."Once he's upped in grade they will be going a step faster, and he will be easier ridden at that stage."RaceBets cut Melon to 5-1 joint-favourite with Moon Racer for the Supreme on March 17.

Read More at Sporting Life

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