Cheltenham Festival Tips Day 2: Langer Dan laid out for Cup

Cheltenham
Mark Milligan has some strong bets at Cheltenham on Wednesday

Mark Milligan takes aim at the two handicaps at Cheltenham on Wednesday and is taking advantage of the extra places on offer...


With 26 runners going to post, Wednesday's Coral Cup at 14:50 is as fiercely competitive as ever, but we do have the carrot of 7 places available on the Sportsbook, which makes it a tempting contest to play from an each-way perspective.

Run For Oscar heads the market and he landed sustained gamble on the flat at Haydock in August before following up in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

He's shaped quite well on both hurdles starts since, suggesting a mark of 147 is fully justified. It's also interesting that connections are refitting cheekpieces.

There's plenty to like about Run For Oscar barring the price of 5/1, which doesn't look to have a great deal of mileage in it.

Benson in search of big bonus

At a bigger price, recent Kelso winner Benson has to be of interest, particularly as he seems to have turned over a new leaf since joining Sandy Thomson for the Dr Richard Newland yard.

Previously something of a tricky character, he fairly bolted up on just his fourth start for current connections at Musselburgh on New Year's Day and his Morebattle win at Kelso last time puts him in line for a £100k bonus here.

The hustle and bustle of this big field shouldn't inconvenience him at all and I wouldn't put anyone off having a small dabble on this one at around 16/1.

Langer Dan the one to be on

While Run For Oscar and Benson are both high up on the shortlist, my bet in the race will be on Langer Dan, who looks to have been laid out for this and has plenty of strong form to his name in big-field handicaps.

Dan Skelton's charge was well clear of the rest when second to none other than Gold Cup favourite Galopin des Champs in the 2021 Martin Pipe and didn't get very far when brought down early as favourite for that race last year.

The 7-y-o landed a big handicap at Aintree after and has been lightly raced since, looking to need his first run of the season when third back at Aintree, before finding the run of the race against him back there on his next start.

He was a bit out of his depth behind the smart Marie's Rock in the Relkeel at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, so I wouldn't be holding that against him and he looks to have been freshened specifically with this target in mind.

Langer Dan has the form to go close and I'm struggling to see him out of the first seven, so an each-way play makes plenty of appeal.

Back Langer Dan each-way, seven places, at

10/1

Dinoblue less exposed than most

The other handicap on the card is the Grand Annual at 16:50 and it could be that Willie Mullins' Dinoblue is a blot on the handicap off a mark of 140.

One of the features of this mare's three runs to date over fences has been how soundly she's jumped, a trait that will stand her in good stead in the hustle and bustle of a big-field handicap such as this.

She's got a touch of class and enters the race as one of the least exposed, looking sure to take plenty of stopping off what could be a very generous opening mark from the British assessor.

This daughter of Doctor Dino has also shaped as if she'll ultimately prove best at trips in excess of 2m, so a strong pace and soft ground at the minimum trip on Wednesday should play right into her hands.

Back Dinoblue win only at

5/1

Before Midnight worth a saver

While Dinoblue is my main play in the race, I can't resist an each-way saver on Before Midnight at a much bigger price, particularly as we have 6 places available on the Sportsbook.

A winner over this C&D in October 2021, he shaped as if still in form at Doncaster last time and would have finished closer but for uncharacteristic late error.

Before Midnight's last win came off a mark 1lb lower than he gets to race off here, and the excellent Sam Thomas - who has made great strides as a relatively rookie trainer - adds cheekpieces and a tongue tie into the equation.

If those two pieces of equipment can eke out just a little bit more out of this gelding, he'll be hard to knock out of the places, with 20/1 a tempting enough price.

Back Before Midnight each-way, six places, at

20/1

Mark's P/L (Not Including Tuesday)

Staked: 319 Returns: 377.97 P/L: +58.97

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