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Back Arizona to Blaze a trail in the Norfolk

Arizona Blaze (purple silks) won the Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh last time out
Arizona Blaze (purple silks) won the Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh last time out

JAWS dropped to the floor when Valiant Force landed last year’s Group Two Norfolk Stakes (2.30pm) at 150/1.

It was lesser-known trainer, and former dairy farmer, Adrian Murray’s first ever Group race win, not to mention his first ever Royal Ascot runner, and despite representing the powerful Amo Racing operation, he flew in under the radar.

The bookies won’t be offering that sort of price around the same connections’ runner today, but ARIZONA BLAZE is still backable at around the 8/1 mark.

The son of Sergei Prokofiev has looked speedy and straightforward right from the get-go, scoring at the Curragh on debut with a performance that earmarked him for Ascot back in mid-March.

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WHILSTLEJACKET got the better of him on soft ground in the Listed First Flier Stakes second time out, but a return to a quicker surface saw him bounce back in the Group Three Marble Hill Stakes.

He showed a good attitude to get back up that day and looked much better suited by the quicker ground.

Ascot’s stiff five furlongs on good-to-firm ground should be just about ideal and he’s set to run a big race.

AESTERIUS is the other one to watch out for at a nice price, likely to jump off around the 12/1 mark.

Big spenders Wathnan Racing picked this lad up for £380,000 at the breeze-up sales, and while a solitary win in a maiden at Bath is yet to cover that cost, he’s a hot prospect.

The Bath victory was emphatic without being exceptional, but he finished that race with plenty left in the tank and is a very exciting juvenile.

He’s done everything that’s been asked of him so far with consummate ease and looks a live player for a place.

Whistlejacket, while short enough for win purposes at around 6/5, has to be respected and should be rolled into a World Pool Quinella (first two horses in any order) or Swinger (any two of the first three) with those other two selections.

As a full-brother to Windsor Castle Stakes winner and Commonwealth Cup runner-up Little Big Bear, he entered the world of racing with the bar set very high.

He ran well to finish second on debut behind a classy horse in the shape of Cowardofthecounty, who finished a good seventh in Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes, and took a nice step forward to land the aforementioned First Flier on his most recent start.

The step back to five furlongs didn’t leave him wanting for speed, showing an impressive turn of foot to put the race to bed in commanding fashion.

Like all of these, he’s open to further progression and wouldn’t need to improve much to cross the line in front again.

There’s a question mark over whether he’ll be quite as good on this quicker ground, but that’s not something that troubled his older brother.

Some of the World Pool dividends have already paid handsomely this week, not least 80/1 Coventry Stakes winner Rashabar returning a whopping 129/1 for World Pool punters, while the Trifecta for the same race paid almost £40,000 more to a £1 stake than the Tricast returned with the fixed-odds bookmakers.

Fingers crossed we can take advantage of those inflated payouts today!

POINTERS                                                                                      THURSDAY

Arizona Blaze (Win and Place)                                                2.30pm Royal Ascot

Aesterius (Win and Place)                                                       2.30pm Royal Ascot

Arizona, Aesterius, Whistlejacket

(Quinella, Swinger)                                                                     2.30pm Royal Ascot