Lots to like about Melon

Melon was all the rage before he made his debut for Willie Mullins in the maiden hurdle at Leapardstown on Sunday, and he was even more the rage (all the rager?) afterwards, such was the proficiency of his performance.

There was a lot to like about Joe Donnelly’s horse’s performance. He travelled really well, he nipped up nimbly on the inside of Broken Soul in an astute reactive move by Ruby Walsh when that rival made a mistake at the second last flight, and he put the race to bed fairly quickly.

Importantly, Melon’s jumping was very good for a debutant. The more experienced Broken Soul set out to make it a proper test too, Melon had to jump at speed pretty much from flagfall, and he didn’t miss a beat until the final flight, when he had the race in the bag, at which he was just a bit guessy.

Also, he ran all the way to the line, he ran through the line. It wasn’t until the second flight past the stands that Ruby Walsh was able to pull him up, and that suggests that he had plenty of energy left.

Broken Soul put up an admirable performance in defeat. Gordon Elliott’s horse also jumped well, with the exception of that mistake at the second last, and, although he was well beaten by the winner, he finished well clear of the third horse Prince Charmin’. Also, it took Jack Kennedy a little while to pull him up too. The first two home ran well past the line.

Broken Soul has had plenty of experience, but this was just his second run over hurdles, and he should improve for it.

It is easy to understand why Melon is now a short-priced favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, hailing, as he does, from the Willie Mullins yard that has supplied three of the last four winners and two of the last four runners-up in the race. He does have some Supreme Novices’ Hurdle stats to overcome, but he is still well on the way towards living up to his reputation.