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Norfolk Stakes analysis

A new contributor this week, Sam Preen, owner of the impressive Soft in Places blog, with plenty of his own content. You can also follow him on Twitter - @sampreen

Norfolk Stakes (Royal Ascot - 2:30 Thursday)

A small but select about of 2 year olds line up for the Norfolk Stakes, with impressive maiden winner Ahern heads straight to Group 2 company after winning a small field conditions stake at Musselburgh earlier this month. A clear winner over similar conditions, this looks much tougher but he can't be ruled out of a place.

One of the more experienced runners in the field, Annunciation heads the market for Richard Hughes and Hannon. Last seen hosing up in a small field maiden at Windsor last month, he appreciated the new tactics of making all the running after breaking well from the stall and didn't see another rival. This looks tougher but with an inside draw and the experience, he should be difficult to beat.

Second favourite and course & distance winner Cay Verde comes here with an obvious chance after running on well in testing ground on his last start here. He went to follow up his success on better going at the Curragh in Listed company, and back at his favoured course, he could be thereabouts.

Outsider Complicator heads to Group 2 company after disappointing in his maiden last week over 6 furlongs. Back down in trip and on better going, this still looks a big ask and he's just here to fill the numbers.

Irish Maiden winner Gale Force Ten improved from his first run when taking a 6 furlong maiden in stamina sapping ground earlier in the month. He didn't show much on his first run over 5 furlongs but improved over further, so he might need an extra furlong to be a serious threat.

Ian's Dream made a pleasing debut when keenness got the better of him in an ordinary maiden earlier this month. With an envious inside draw where he'll be nearest the rail, he will have a clear run and should be thereabouts if he stays focused.

Jubilee Brig's connections skipped the Coventry Stakes so he could try his luck here. Last seen when he won well at Kempton on all weather earlier this month when making all the running. He has been in the frame in all three of his starts (all in maiden company) but looks outclassed here.

Mister Marc runs over 5 furlongs for the first time after finishing a respectable second in horrible going at Naas when finishing behind Dawn Approach in Listed company. Down in trip and on much better ground which he has won on before, he looks difficult to beat with a good run.

Morawij made a good start to his career when taking a 6 furlong maiden at Haydock last time out. Stepping down in trip for his second run and a massive step up in class, this might look a bit too difficult for him to follow up his maiden win.

Ocean Applause disappointed on his first start in maiden company when veering right at the start and blowing it right from the beginning. He came on for the run at Sandown on his last run in Listed company when putting up his best run finishing an unlucky fourth behind Sir Prancealot, though this is much tougher.

Reckless Abandon already has the upper advantage over Annunciation when finishing 2 lengths in front of him at Doncaster in May in a huge field. Taking a keen hold, he made pretty much all of the running in the centre of the track and went on to quicken, though he did end up drifting left and managing to keep on well. This is a massive step up in trip but he can't be ruled out.

Storm Moon racked up two wins in April in smaller company at Southwell and Musselburgh before disappointing in firmer going at Sandown when fading into fifrth on his first start in Listed company. This looks much tougher then a conditions race and will need to seriously improve to win this.

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