TWO stirring track gallops by Villa Verde has Bendigo trainer Shaun Dwyer confident his star filly can return to the winners' circle at Caulfield on Saturday.
Villa Verde ran a brave second at her first-up run at Caulfield three weeks ago and has thrived since.
Dwyer had planned to run Villa Verde against her own sex in the $150,000 Thoroughred Club Stakes (1200m).
However, tthe trainer decided to aim higher and take on the boys in the $250,000 Catanach's Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m).
"Her last two serious pieces of work last Friday and Tuesday surprised me,'' Dwyer said.
"She showed me that she's improved significantly since her last run.
"I don't think I could have her any better."
Villa Verde was trapped wide first-up and was only run-down late by the David Hayes-trained Iconic.
Villa Verde has drawn barrier eight in the small field of nine on Saturday and Dwyer is wary of the filly having another luckless run.
"We need the race to unfold for us a bit,'' Dwyer said.
"Last start we thought there was good speed in the race, we went back early and then had to make a wide run.
"The first 100m on Saturday will be interesting. We won't be coming across to lead.
"Ideally, we'd love to slot in just off the leaders."
Villa Verde is $5 second favourite for the Blue Sapphire Stakes.
The Mick Price-trained Lion Of Belfort is favourite at $4.80.
Iconic is on the third line of betting at $5.50 alongside Blue Diamond Stakes winner Miracles Of Life $5.50.
A strong performance on Saturday will ensure Villa Verde heads to the Group One Coolmore Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Derby Day.