Racing: Plate can serve as Quick's ticket to Australia: A popular victory at Newcastle could earn a passage to the Melbourne Cup. Chris Corrigan reports

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The Independent Online
FIRST prize for Quick Ransom in the Northumberland Plate tomorrow would raise the fare to send the five-year-old to Australia for the Melbourne Cup in November.

Mark Johnston, who trains the tough chestnut at Middleham, believes Quick Ransom is certainly capable of taking tomorrow's Newcastle race, which offers pounds 60,000 to the winner, or the similarly valuable Ebor Handicap at York in August.

'The prize money may well be used to finance a trip to Australia for Quick Ransom,' Johnston said yesterday. 'I spoke to officials from the Victoria Racing Club last night and they are as keen as we are that he gets there.

'The quarantine restrictions are for at least two weeks before the journey, followed by another fortnight on arrival in Australia. We might send Quick Ransom out there six weeks before the Melbourne Cup, so he could have a prep race before the big event at Flemington.'

Bookmakers cut Quick Ransom's odds for tomorrow's 'Pitmen's Derby' again yesterday. Both William Hill and Corals now make him an 8-1 shot.

The gelding has been up for sale since crowning a superb season by winning last year's Ebor Handicap. But the gelding was led unsold from last year's Doncaster November Sales, bids closing at 61,000 guineas - 9,000 guineas below his reserve. Another impressive win at York two weeks ago, however, indicated that the horse had not been over-priced by his owner, J S Morrison, a Glasgow solicitor.

Quick Ransom is still on the market and his Melbourne Cup entry has attracted enquiries from bloodstock agents acting for Australian owners, Johnston said yesterday. 'The price tag is now pounds 100,000,' Johnston said. Sold or unsold, Quick Ransom may well turn up down under anyway, he added.

Hills have now put in Martin Pipe's Balasani as their 11-2 favourite (from 6-1) for the Northumberland Plate.

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