Melon ripe for Down Royal

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

Willie Mullins could let Melon kick off his campaign in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal on November 3.

Runner-up in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in the spring, the five-year-old features prominently in ante-post lists for the Arkle Trophy, but is set to remain over the smaller obstacles.

Speaking in an At The Races stable tour, Mullins said: "I think he'll stick to hurdling this season and he could well start off in the Grade Two hurdle at Down Royal.

"I wouldn't be worried about stepping him up to two and a half miles if the right race presented itself for him.

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"I'd be hoping he can make the jump he needs to make to be competitive in open Grade One company as he has very few miles on the clock over hurdles and really should be open to improvement."

Another Mullins inmate who is set to stay over hurdles is Cilaos Emery, who caused a minor upset when he defeated Melon at Punchestown.

"He's a nice type that will always like a dig in the ground," the County Carlow handler said.

"We haven't made any final decisions yet, but I think we are going to stay hurdling with him.

"He'll probably stick to trips around two miles. He won't be one of the earlier ones to run, but will hopefully be out by Christmas."

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