Walsh plays down Melon claims

Ruby Walsh is refusing to get carried away with the claims of Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite Melon.

Ruby Walsh believes there's more to come from Melon

The five-year-old had been the subject of plenty of hype since arriving from France and joining Willie Mullins' powerful team.

The Medicean gelding didn't disappoint on his hurdling debut either, going on to win by 10 lengths and prompting bookmakers to promote him to favouritism for the Festival opener.

Melon is 7/2 (NRNB) with the sponsors of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and jockey Ruby Walsh was asked whether he was in the same bracket as recent winners Douvan and Vautour.

"You don't know," he replied to host Nick Luck on Racing UK's The Verdict.

"You line up in a maiden hurdle and you're not going to take them to the upmost to find out because you want these horses to progress and build through the season and through their races so you do as much as you have to win the race and that's all that Melon did.

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"He travelled well and he jumped well – alright he reached a little bit at the last – but he won strongly on the bridle but the form is pretty average.

"The second horse was gutsy on the day but before that he only won a Tramore bumper so the form is not that strong but he can only win and he did and he galloped out through the line and went quite a distance to pull up which you would like.

"The time was a good bit slower than Petit Mouchoir a couple of hours later but you'd be expecting that.

"He'd have to improve off of that to be considered a Supreme Novices' favourite anyway."

Despite that cautious assessment, Walsh is hopeful that there's more to come given the youngster's physique.

"He's a tall enough horse who has probably gotten stronger during the winter but he does seem to be maturing nicely," he added.

"We're probably getting tight enough on time to run him again before the Festival. Will he run him again or not? I don't know."

Sky Bet are offering NRNB on all 28 races at the Cheltenham Festival

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