Rising star Hannah’s Princess can land Newbury feature

Bill Esdaile
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TRYING to pick a Saturday winner on a Thursday isn’t easy. Trying to pick a Saturday winner on a Thursday, before the runners have even been declared, is nigh on impossible.

At the time of writing there are 27 runners still left in the EBF Stallions & TBA Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (2.35pm) at Newbury tomorrow. But the reality is a large percentage won’t stand their ground, and I’m hoping that Warren Greatrex’s HANNAH’S PRINCESS will sneak in at the foot of the weights.

The six-year-old couldn’t have been any more impressive when routing her opposition by a cool 14 lengths at Doncaster last month and makes her handicap debut off what seems a very fair mark indeed.

The day’s other feature event, the Ultima Business Solutions Silver Jubilee Handicap Chase (3.10pm), looks another tricky contest, but I’m very hopeful that Philip Hobbs’s IMPERIAL CIRCUS can go very close.

The nine-year-old hasn’t been seen since running over Cheltenham’s cross-country fences in December, so he comes here fresh and is back down to a very competitive mark in what doesn’t look a quality renewal.

Keep an eye out for Emma Lavelle’s Highland Lodge, who has dropped to a ludicrously low mark if returning to anywhere near his best. He is set to run off a 10lb lower mark than 12 months ago and has the ability to make a mockery of that mark if he has shrugged off his ulcer problems.

Classic-winning flat trainer Andrew Blading is not normally associated with hurdlers, but has a potentially very well-handicapped juvenile in the shape of STORM FORCE TEN in the Doom Bar Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Newbury (3.45pm) tomorrow.

The son of Shirocco hasn’t been seen in action since finishing fourth to Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co at Cheltenham in January on terrible ground. There is every chance that he’ll improve for some better ground as his best performance on the flat came on good ground at Chester last May. His able pilot takes off another useful 3lb.

Looking at this afternoon’s action from Newbury and Nicky Henderson’s CHAMPAGNE EXPRESS can follow up last month’s Chepstow victory with another in the Emma Lavelle Racing Novices’ Hurdle (2.10pm). My selection saw off King’s Odyssey with relative ease on his hurdling bow and that one ran out a facile winner at Warwick a couple of days ago.

■ Pointers…
Champagne Express 2.10pm Newbury (today)
Hannah’s Princess 2.35pm Newbury (tomorrow)
Imperial Circus 3.10pm Newbury (tomorrow)
Storm Force Ten 3.45pm Newbury (tomorrow)