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Cheltenham Festival tips: Langer Dan backed for Coral Cup glory on day two and a Grand Annual pick

Day two of the Cheltenham Festival features the Champion Chase and the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase; Hugh Taylor has a pair of picks in the Coral Cup and Grand Annual; follow every race on the Cheltenham Festival Live blog on

Cheltenham Festival
Image: Day two of the Cheltenham Festival features the Champion Chase

At The Races tipster Hugh Taylor has a pair of selections on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, coming in the Coral Cup and Grand Annual.

Libberty Hunter (Grand Annual - 4.50pm)

LIBBERTY HUNTER's jumping is understandably a work in progress, but he has looked a novice chaser on the up and with the ground coming right for him he might be able to take advantage of what still looks a very favourable handicap mark in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup.

He has taken very well to fences this year, and looked the likely winner when coming down three out on his chasing debut at Chepstow in November.

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He made no mistake when winning next time at Wincanton on very testing ground, easing clear in the closing stages with his rider virtually motionless.

On his latest start at Cheltenham on New Year's Day he did well to run down front-runner Matata (who ran very well next time and again when finishing fourth in the Arkle Chase on Tuesday) after hitting the second-last and losing momentum, and a 7lb rise for that effort doesn't look insurmountable given how lightly raced he is over fences.

This will represent a very different test, as he's been kept fairly wide in small-field races so far this season, but if his jumping holds up, the likely strong pace could see him in an even better light, with testing ground clearly in his favour.

Langer Dan (Coral Cup - 3.15pm)

Langer Dan and Harry Skelton celebrate winning the Coral Cup
Image: Langer Dan and Harry Skelton celebrate winning the 2023 Coral Cup

LANGER DAN is a decidedly unoriginal selection as he bids to land back-to-back Coral Cup wins, but based simply on what we know about him, there must be a good chance he's going to run another big race.

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His trainer Dan Skelton is adamant that it's nature rather than nurture that causes him to be at his best in the spring, but the bottom line is that in each of the last three seasons he has come alive at this time of the year after some unpromising build-up efforts.

Sixth in the Boodles Handicap Hurdle over 2m in 2000, he was unlucky to run into handicap blot Galopin Des Champs (who was running off a mark of just 142) in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle the following year, pulling a long way clear of the remainder.

He was sent off at 7/2 favourite to make amends in the same race in 2022, despite finishing last of six in his prep race, but was brought down at the second. However, he quickly gained compensation when winning the Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Aintree the following month.

After three fruitless runs between November and January, he returned to Cheltenham to contest this race last year and duly bounced back to his best, finding plenty in the closing stages to win narrowly in a race where the front three pulled a long way clear.

He's had his usual early-season struggles this year, and it was a little disconcerting that he bled on one occasion, but as a result he's back on the same mark as in this race last year.

Skelton has stated that Langer Dan has been treated for stomach ulcers in recent weeks, having given a similar update on Greatwood Hurdle disappointment L'Eau Du Sud shortly before he bounced back with a big run in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.

It would be a brave man to bet against Langer Dan returning to form here and he looks fairly priced with that in mind.

Hugh Taylor's best bets (1-5 points)

Langer Dan (Coral Cup - 3.15pm) - 1pt win (8/1 general)

Libberty Hunter (Grand Annual - 4.50pm) - 1pt win (5/1 general)

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