La Bella Diosa's challenging trans-Tasman expedition poses another question at the final hurdle, with her staying capabilities under scrutiny in the Group One Australian Oaks.
After launching her Sydney sojourn with a with a classy win the Group Two Surround Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 25, the three-year-old filly has been bogged down, at times literally, in the lead-up to her Sydney swan song on Saturday.
She tailed a 19-strong field in the Group One Coolmore Classic (1500m) against older mares at Rosehill on March 11 and a fortnight later on the same puggy surface La Bella Diosa could only run ninth of 12 against her own age group in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
Co-trainer Mandy Brown revealed La Bella Diosa was struggling with an allergy-related respiratory issue after she trailed Heavens Above by 10 lengths in the Coolmore.
She is breathing easier now though.
"We definitely seem to have got on top of that. Her work on Tuesday and her recovery was brilliant, the best it's been since the Coolmore. The humidity settling down has also helped her as well," Brown said.
A change of tracks to Randwick should also be beneficial after Brown pinpointed Rosehill's clay-based surface as La Bella Diosa's major impediment.
"In both races the track conditions were against us. They were quite puggy sorts of holding tracks," she said.
La Bella Diosa should be more at home racing at her Sydney base while the weather might also be favourable with the track expected to improve from heavy to soft leaving the 2400 metres as a query.
"We're going into it probably still with a question mark over our filly. Is she a stayer or not? Hopefully that question will be answered on Saturday," Brown said.
Brown said Le Bella Diosa was in the best possible shape to duel with proven stayers headed by New Zealand Oaks (2400m) winner and Australian Oaks favourite, Bonneval.
"Coming off the back of those last two runs I've actually found it hard to get a line on her but I was very pleased with her work on Tuesday," Brown said.
"She's been bright, very springy in the walk."
Her jockey Jason Collett was also upbeat.
"I put her last run down to the sticky track," he said.
"I feel she'll stay. The way she was travelling (in the Vinery) she feels like she'd run it out."
Win, lose or draw, La Bella Diosa returns home on Tuesday for a spell.
By Chris Barclay
SYDNEY, April 7 AAP