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Image: Bruno Cannatelli
Al Passem kicks off his spring campaign in the McKenzie Stakes
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The victory of Rich Enuff in the McKenzie Stakes at Moonee Valley three years ago began a spring carnival that was the ride of a lifetime for trainer Ken Keys.

Rich Enuff went on to win the Danehill Stakes at Flemington and the Guineas Prelude at Caulfield only to be run down late by Shooting To Win in the Caulfield Guineas.

Three years later and Al Passem kicks off his spring campaign in the same race, at the same course, on Saturday.

“That hasn’t been lost on me,” Keys said.

“It worked that time for a preparation into the Guineas and hopefully it’s the same again.”

Keys is planning a similar program towards the Guineas with Al Passem, with the one deviation providing he performs well on Saturday, a 1400m-race at Flemington on September 16, the same day as the Danehill.

“You can plan all you like but he’s got to justify it all,” Keys said.

Al Passem was successful at Wangaratta on debut before winning at Caulfield in April.

He was spelled after running second Kobayashi in the Redoute’s Choice Stakes at Caulfield on April 29.

Keys was pleased with the colt’s first preparation and is hoping he recaptures that form again this spring.

“He did everything asked of him and he’s a pretty professional little racehorse,” Keys said.

“I think his first preparation was better than people give him credit for but you never know how they come back until you meet them all again.”

Keys said Al Passem had not been screwed down for his return after a few minor hiccups.

He said the colt suffered a spider bite early in his preparation while the trainer has been restricted in his access to the grass training tracks at Cranbourne.

“He had a soft trial at Moe which was a nice trip away but the soft track may be a worry as he’s going into it off only the one trial,” Keys said.

“He’s got to start somewhere but you don’t want them too wound up to have them still going strong in October.”

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Racecourse: Moonee Valley
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