Trainer Willie Mullins admits he has no idea why Melon performed so badly during the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle on Saturday afternoon.
The seven-year-old struggled to get going during the Grade One contest and eventually finished fourth, with Gordon Elliott’s Apple’s Jade storming to victory.
Supasundae and Petit Mouchoir eventually claimed the rest of the places but Mullins admits nothing was wrong with him physically.
The chestnut gelding was only beaten by a neck in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last year but Mullins admits he may need to totally change the gameplan with his stable star.
“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.
“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.”
Melon has now drifted in the Stayers Hurdle market to 21.00, with Paisley Park now the 3.25 favourite.