Friday 24 November 2017

VIDEO: Willie Mullins is very bullish about Melon's chances in the Supreme despite only one previous run

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ante-post favourite Melon is one of 10 possibles for trainer Willie Mullins in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle on Tuesday, the opening race of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

The five-year-old has had just one start for Mullins after his transfer from France, winning by 10 lengths at Leopardstown at the end of January to be promoted to favourite.

Mullins has a raft of options, including Bravissimo, Bunk Off Early, Cilaos Emery, Crack Mome, Montalbano, Pleasant Company and Riven Light.

The County Carlow handler also has Let's Dance and Airlie Beach in the mix, but both of those of horses are among the leading lights for the mares' novices' event later in the week.

Describing Melon, Mullins said: "A horse with plenty of ability, jumps well, lacks experience, fine, strong, tall horse, who has the ability but not the experience.

"The form  in the two-mile division is not as good as some years."

Ruby Walsh will have a lot of horses to choose from but Mullins expects him to opt for the favourite.

"We're looking at Melon at home all the time, I know where I'd go," he added.

"I'd say it will be an easy enough decision for him."

Nigel Twiston-Davies' Ballyandy could lead the home defence following his Betfair Hurdle success last month.

David Pipe's Moon Racer is another key contender after 26 confirmations were received but he is also still in the reckoning for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at this stage.

Movewiththetimes is a notable possible for Paul Nicholls, while Nicky Henderson can choose between Beyond Conceit and River Wylde.

Neon Wolf still has the option for Harry Fry, although the trainer has stated the Neptune is his preferred Festival option.

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