Langer Dan made it third time lucky at the Cheltenham Festival when holding on for a brave success in the Coral Cup.
The big meeting has been a cruel mistress for the Dan Skelton-trained seven-year-old in the last two seasons, bumping into Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs in the 2021 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle before being brought down at the second flight when sent off favourite for the same race 12 months ago.
This year stable jockey Harry Skelton was given his chance aboard the 9-1 winner and despite having plenty to do when short of room two out, he was inspired in the saddle from the home turn.
Hitting the front halfway up the run-in, he drove his mount home with vigour to hold off An Epic Song (second) and Campround (third) in three-way tussle at the finish.
Dan Skelton said: “He’s a great horse to train because he puts it all in when it matters.
“The best thing that happened is that they shut the door on him two out which meant battle was renewed, and he likes that because he had to get out of jail as if it was another race.
“What this horse has got is heart. He’s all heart and it’s part of him.
“He comes alive in the spring, but we’ve got more chances to come. Compared to Wille Mullins we’re in the foothills, but we strive to get better and our team is stacked with talent.”
There was a first Festival winner for Darragh O’Keeffe as he steered Henry de Bromhead’s Maskada to victory in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.
Jumping the final fence alongside defending champion Global Citizen and Dinoblue, the 22-1 shot took advantage of a jolting error from 7-2 favourite Dinoblue to scorch to a six-and-a-half-length victory.
De Bromhead said: “She was really good, we’re delighted with her. Darragh gave her a super ride so I’m delighted for him, it’s his first winner here, that’s brilliant.
“I’m delighted for the Marigas (owners) they are great supporters of ours and we had a nice winner for them on Saturday and here today.
“We bought her last season, just before Punchestown, and she had a nice run there. They have some very good broodmares and she looked ideal to add to the band. She had good form in the UK, I don’t think we’ve done a lot with her.
“She had form over further and in soft ground so we are delighted.”