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Teahupoo enters Champion Hurdle picture with Gowran win | Racing News

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Teahupoo’s Champion Hurdle odds were slashed after he cantered home a clear-cut winner of the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park.

The Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old was cut to 8-1 from 20s by Betfair for next month’s Cheltenham Festival feature after putting his six rivals to the sword in the Grade Three heat.

Teahupoo was sent off the 13-8 favourite in the hands of Robbie Power, having accounted for the reopposing Quilixios in winning both his starts so far this season, and the Masked Marvel gelding travelled supremely well throughout the two-mile contest.

Fellow Elliott inmate Felix Desjy set out to make all, with Saldier briefly taking a turn on the front, but turning for home it was clear that Power’s mount held all the aces.

He stretched clear when given the signal and merely had to be kept up to his work to see off the staying-on Darasso by 11 lengths, with Quilixios a further 11 lengths back in third.

Elliott said: “I thought he did it well. It was a good performance.

“Robbie said he hated the ground but he picked up on a bit better ground in the straight. He probably got there plenty soon but he had to go the way the race worked out.

“We said we’d come here today and see exactly where we were. Thankfully it’s worked out and we can think about the Champion Hurdle now. We can dream for another few weeks!

“He’s a very deceiving horse as he doesn’t do much at home. He’s very laidback but I’d say he’s not a bad horse.”

Power was notching his first winner since returning from a tendon injury he sustained in October.

The rider said: “It’s been a long road back, but he’s the sort of horse that you want to come back for.

“I won on him twice as a juvenile and when Jack (Kennedy) won on him this season, he said he was a lot stronger.”

Cheltenham remains an option for Melon, who ended a lengthy losing streak in the Red Mills Chase.

Willie Mullins’ charge was sent off the 2-5 favourite to claim a first win since December 2019 and he prevailed with the minimum of fuss in the hands of Paul Townend.

Campaigned exclusively in Grade One company for the last two years, Melon made the most of a dip in class to come home six lengths clear of Sizing Pottsie, with Betfair clipping him to 12-1 for the Ryanair Chase, one of three Festival entries along with the Gold Cup and Stayers’ Hurdle.

Mullins said: “It’s great to get him back to winning ways. He did a little bit of work during the week which was fantastic and we decided to come here.

“Paul said he really enjoyed himself and we’ll see where we go from here. He’s in everything at Cheltenham. He’s run great races there but it’s hard to find a race that he can win at Cheltenham.

“There is also Aintree, so we’ll have to talk to the owners and see where we go. He’s a real favourite of Marie and Joe Donnelly.”

Townend believes the victory will give Melon’s confidence a boost.

He said: “This race looked tailor made for him. He really enjoyed himself today and it was good to get that into him as he’s had hard races and been knocking on the door in a lot of big races.

“That can only help his confidence.”

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