Melon survives last-flight fright to win WKD Hurdle at Down Royal

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HALLOWEEN might have been and gone earlier this week however Willie Mullins suffered a late final-flight scare as Melon practically threw away the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal.

The five-year-old chestnut gelding held a giant status lengthy earlier than his leaping debut at Leopardstown final season and, after profitable his maiden hurdle, he produced two excellent shows in Grade One firm at Cheltenham and Punchestown, ending as runner-up in each.

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He was the 2-5 favorite to make a profitable return to motion on this two-mile Grade Two and was settled in behind his stablemate Coquin Mans and Wakea for a lot of the two-mile journey.

 Melon wins the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal

PA

Melon wins the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal

Wakea dropped away rounding the house flip, leaving the 2 Mullins inmates to struggle it out and Melon was profitable the argument when he pecked on touchdown after leaping the ultimate flight.

Fortunately for favourite-backers, the error didn’t halt his momentum, and he galloped on to attain by a reasonably comfy 4 and a half lengths.

Melon was lower to Eight-1 in locations for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, and Walsh stated: “He was a giant, uncooked horse final yr and did exceptionally properly to do what he did.

“He has strengthened up considerably; he’s a bigger, stronger horse. He was only a frame of a horse last year. He looks a more robust, stronger horse now who is improving with age. It was a good performance to beat race-fit horses in Coquin Mans and Wakea.

“He has to keep improving but it is a good starting point. He quickened up well.

Templegate’s TV Tips

Ascot 1.50 – Copain De Classe: ‘I’m confident he’s well weighted and the switch to fences should be the making of him’ (add to your betslip)

Wetherby 2.05 – La Bague Au Roi: ‘She was a smart novice last season and this looks an ideal opportunity to land another Listed prize’ (add to your betslip)

Ascot 2.25 – Max Ward: ‘Took well to fences last season and this drop in distance should suit’ (add to your betslip)

Wetherby 2.40 – Wholestone: ‘Has the potential to be a smart stayer and there was a lot to like about his return effort’ (add to your betslip)

Ascot 3.00 – Air Horse One: ‘He’s one to follow this season and should get the strong pace he likes here’ (add to your betslip)

Wetherby 3.15 – Bristol De Mai: ‘Has always promised to develop into a top-class chaser and can show that class today’ (add to your betslip)

Ascot 3.35 – Ballykan: ‘He’s become nicely weighted after losing his form in the spring and summer’ (add to your betslip)

“Paul (Townend on Coquin Mans) kind of stretched me at the top of the hill. I had a couple of lengths to make up on him and he closed it down quick.”

When asked if he would get two and a half miles, Walsh added: “He probably will but I don’t know if he will have to.

“I’d rather have him than be looking at him!”



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