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Melon can emulate Jezki and McCoy

By Ron McKnight

Cheltenham Festival contenders are engaged in both the Graded races on the first session of the Down Royal Festival.

The Grade Two WKD Hurdle features on day one with the race won in recent years by classy performers Jezki - under the great AP McCoy - and Monksland.

Champion trainer Willie Mullins is doubly represented by Coquin Mans and Melon.

The former is owned by George Creighton who was joint owner of the legendary Hurricane Fly and, after winning at Listowel on the flat, was runner up to former Champion Hurdler Jezki at Tipperary.

Melon concluded last season when runner up at the Punchestown Festival having filled the same position in the Supreme Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Ruby Walsh partners the latter which is rated only 1lb superior to his stablemate.

Mick Jazz, trained by Gordon Elliott, is another making his seasonal debut and the danger to the Mullins pair. Melon is taken to make a winning debut.

Mullins again dominates the Grade Three EBF Mares Novice Hurdle with Mystic Theatre engaged - the mare owned by Crossgar based Rose Boyd, again a joint owner of Hurricane Fly.

Mystic Theatre is unbeaten in her last five starts and is hard to oppose having beaten Just Janice last season.

The locally owned Dixie Lee needs to improve and Lesley Dawn, the youngest runner of the six, could prove the danger.

Trainer Elliott has a trio engaged in the opening maiden hurdle including the highly regarded Poli Roi, the mount of Davy Russell.

Pat Dempsey has his team in top form and, with the trainer's son Luke aboard, Stowaway Forever can supply the danger.

Local trainers have Whispering Affair and Castle Clyde engaged and the latter's form, when third at the track in January, was boosted with runner up Train Wreck winning yesterday.

Bronco Bill, Swingbridge, No Pressure Pat and Clondaw Farmer are the short list in the Allianz Handicap Hurdle.

The last named is a course winner but absent for two years while Swingbridge could start favourite for the Elliott stable.

No Pressure Pat, a winner last weekend, just gets preference.

The Porter Beginners Chase is a competitive heat.

Top owner JP McManus is doubly represented with Thirsty Work and Kilfenora while Tombstone is the pick of Elliott's quality duo.

The Noel Meade trained Moulin A Vent represents the local Hunt family, while Gilt Shadow runs for Larne trainer Stuart Crawford.

Eight Till Late, Bilko and Ontopoftheworld all warrant consideration in the Toals Bookmakers Chase however Mount Beckham, trained at Donaghadee by Clare Cannon, can supply the each way value.

Felix Desjy is taken to complete the hat trick in the concluding bumper.

TODAY'S DOWN ROYAL TIPS: 12.40 Poli Roi 1.15 Mystic Theatre 1.50 Melon 2.25 No Pressure Pat 3.00 Moulin A Vent 3.35 Mount Beckham 4.10 Felix Desjy

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