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Mullins finally has Melon ripe for glory

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Trainer Willie Mullins Photo: Tony Gavin

Trainer Willie Mullins Photo: Tony Gavin

Trainer Willie Mullins Photo: Tony Gavin

Melon, one of the talking horses of Willie Mullins' yet to see combat this term, is nearing a much-awaited run.

The French-bred came off the Flat and has won over a mile and a half. He has long been 16/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, in which Mullins has a stunning recent record.

"He is in better form, having just had a few little niggles," Mullins said. "There's enough talk about him anyway! He is nice though, I like him. I need to get him out as I don't want to wait another year as a novice with him. He'll be running very soon I'd say."

The trainer says he "wouldn't even like to contemplate Vroum Vroum Mag's target at the moment" but, if she does not run in the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle, he may have a lively alternative in Clondaw Warrior.

The Galway Hurdle winner chased the mare home at Leopardstown and is being strongly considered.

The trainer said: "He should enjoy the nice ground at Cheltenham. It's probably a very obvious thing he'd do well over three miles, given the trips he was going on the Flat. Connections are having some fun with him. Funny enough, he gets quite big between races - you wouldn't know he's been running. He has to be a bit of a dark horse for the Stayers' Hurdle."

Irish Independent