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Ben Thompson rides Al Passem in Saturday's Group Two Danehill Stakes

The deeper into the spring carnival the tougher it becomes for a claiming apprentice to attract the support of owners and trainers at feature meetings.

While last season’s champion apprentice Beau Mertens has six rides on Saturday’s Flemington program, runner-up Ben Thompson has one, with the possibility of two.

Thompson’s record is strong and he currently sits second, with 14 winners, on the Victorian Jockeys’ Premiership in the early part of the season, one behind Damian Lane.

The Cranbourne-based apprentice rides Al Passem in Saturday’s Group Two Danehill Stakes (1200m) and is hoping for a scratching to enable Firenze to get into the Sofitel Girls Day Out Handicap.

“It’s very competitive at this time of the year but it’s nice to be riding at Flemington on Makybe Diva Stakes day,” Thompson said.

Thompson will be guided by manager Reece Murphy as to whether he heads bush on a Saturday for a full book or sticks to the city area picking up one or two rides.

But Al Passem, who is on a path towards next month’s Caulfield Guineas 2017, is one horse that will bring the apprentice to town.

“He’s got class,” Thompson said.

“He ran second in a Listed race at the end of his last campaign and there’s no doubt this is going to be the toughest race of his career thus far.

“But he’s got fitness on his side being second-up and I think it’s going to be good to see where he lines up in the order of the top three-year-olds.

“He’s on a path towards the Caulfield Guineas and hopefully he can get over tomorrow and run a strong mile.”

Al Passem is trained by Ken Keys who won the Danehill Stakes with Rich Enuff in 2014.

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