By TONY WHITE
and GEOFF NEWLING
SMART Eagle Farm trainer Liam Birchley has elected to scratch three-year-old Blue Oyster from a minor event at Grafton today to contest the $30,000 Sportsman Guineas (1600m).
And Birchley has booked in-form jockey Allan Robinson for the mount.
The gelding by little known American stallion Spicy Fat raced into Guineas contention with his last start fifth to Step Right in a 1400m Class 6 Hcp at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
"He drew barrier 14, had to be pulled back and finished up racing three wide at the tail of the field," Birchley said.
"He was still last on straightening but rocketed home over the final 300 metres.
"All the smarties marked him as a black book special. Backing up quickly and the step up to 1600 metres should suit him."
Birchley added Blue Oyster was 'a cheap horse and a better physical specimen' than most of the Spicy Fat breed.
"He's very genuine. The Guineas field doesn't look overly strong this year.
"Hopefully he can have a bit of luck and hit the line running."
Tamworth owner Tim Coates rued the scratching of Morning Flare from today's Guineas after the gelding failed to overcome a virus.
The plan now is to tackle the Mona Lisa Stakes when the filly overcomes her illness.
Coates believes Ballina-trained Bavosa is the horse to beat in the Guineas.
Scone trainer Luke Griffith agrees, rating Bavosa and Admiral Spy as the toughest two.
He has Annjolino entered with Zac Purton to ride.
"She's a chance," Griffith said.
"She's drawn okay and she has worked well since her run at Muswellbrook."
Annjolino ran a 'shocker' at Muswellbrook, something Griffith cannot explain.
"She'd been running some nice races in Sydney and we'd freshened her up for Muswellbrook but disappointed. We weren't going to go to Grafton but her work has been real good and we can't fault her," he said.
Griffith trains the filly for Murrurundi owners Marty Wilson, Allan Smith and Brett Reid.
She has won three races and more than $43,000 for the trio from her 18 starts.