Mullins unsure on Melon struggles
Willie Mullins says he can find "no apparent reason" for Melon's recent struggles after a poor showing in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Melon finished a close second in the Champion Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival behind Buveur D'Air in March but has failed to impress in two races so far this season.
Mullins' charge came in fourth in the Ryanair Hurdle in December and on Saturday finished over 21 lengths behind winner Apple's Jade at Leopardstown.
The trainer is at a loss to explain Melon's struggles, although he admits even on top form a win may have been out of reach in the Irish Champion Hurdle given Apple's Jade's excellent performance.
"He was disappointing. He was never going and I can't find anything wrong with him. That's two bad runs now for no apparent reason," said Mullins, as reported by Sky Sports.
"We've changed a lot of things with him at home and worked him differently.
"I wonder at this stage does he need to go out in trip or is he looking for a fence.
"I think he's still not in form. His homework looks good but his racetrack work doesn't. Maybe it's ground, maybe he's better on much softer, we'll see.
"He ran a cracker at Cheltenham last year but I don't think we've had him back to that on the racetrack.
"We thought he was working really well at home but he's gone out and disappointed really badly.
"The mare [Apple's Jade] was fantastic. We could have run a lot better and still been behind the mare. It would have been hard to beat her even if we were right. She was very very good."
Gareth Freeman is an experienced journalist who can offer in-depth knowledge on a host of sports, especially football, tennis, snooker and basketball.