Melon jumps the last on the way to winning at Leopardstown on Sunday
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By Bruce Jackson 6:00PM 31 JAN 2017
PUNTERS continue to see Melon as a mouthwatering proposition in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, with bookmakers reporting substantial ante-post liabilities on the Willie Mullins-trained hurdler.
A general 10-1 chance for the Supreme prior to making an impressive hurdling debut in a Leopardstown maiden on Sunday, Melon is shaping up to be the latest Irish banker in the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival and was on Tuesday cut to 3-1 (from 5-1) with Coral.
Melon will be tasked with restoring Willie Mullins’ Supreme dominance after Min’s second-placed finish last year ended a run of three successive victories for the Closutton trainer.
Coral spokesman Simon Clare said: “This is easily the most significant market move of the Cheltenham festival so far, both in terms of the volume of bets we have taken on Melon and the size of many of them.
“Melon is now almost certain to head to the Festival as, what has in recent years become, the traditional Willie Mullins-trained favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and more of them have won than lost.”
Bookmakers running scared
BoyleSports spokesman Liam Glynn on Tuesday echoed the fears about Melon winning the Supreme. He said: “Our traders are now running scared at what Melon could potentially cost us should he manage to win the Supreme.
“He had already been a large liability in the antepost book prior to his racecourse debut and this has now doubled and continues to rise at an alarmingly rate.”
Melon is a 4-1 chance with BoyleSports, while he is a best-priced 9-2 with race sponsors SkyBet and bet365.
Bookmakers may be running scared of Melon but his rider Ruby Walsh thinks more is needed if the five-year-old is to extend Mullins’ superb record in the festival opener.
Writing in his Racing UK blog, Walsh said: “Melon won a maiden hurdle on Sunday and he won it very well. He did it with the authority you would hope he would do it with – ten lengths.
“You would hope he would improve for the experience. He looks an exciting horse but he needs to up his game.”