Alta Stella has resumed her injury-plagued career in the best possible fashion with an explosive first-up win at Sandown. The lightly raced four-year-old was having her first start since July when successful in the Sheen Group Handicap (1000m) on Wednesday.
Injuries to fetlocks and knees on her forelegs has restricted Alta Stella to just five starts, but she's been successful on three occasions.
Providing Linda Meech with the second leg of a winning double, Alta Stella ($4.80) scored by 1-1/2 lengths from Eat Dessert First ($5.50) with For A Song ($16) 1-1/4 lengths away third.
Trainer Nick Smart is now planning to find a suitable black-type race for the mare while she remains sound.
"She's pretty big up front and she hits the ground hard but whenever she's been sound she's won," Smart said.
"Going into today, you can't be over-confident with unsound horses, but I thought if she stands up she could do something like that.
"We've always known she's had that sort of ability and it's great to see her do it.
"The owners have been very patient as she's had a lot of knee and fetlock issues."
Formerly training out of Morphettville, Smart now has a base at Ballarat but would like to return to Adelaide for the May carnival, explaining the mare was owned by South Australian clients.
"We'll take her home, look after her and pick the next target," he said.
Black Caviar's daughter Oscietra was sent out an easing $4.20 favourite and after hitting the lead inside the final 300m, weakened to finish eighth, 5.6 lengths from the winner.
Lindsay Park senior trainer David Hayes said he wasn't looking to make excuses for her the filly's performance.
"Her two big flops have been on two of the toughest tracks in Australia, Sandown and Flemington," he said.
"It's a very tough 1000 metres here and she needs a bend to be able to use her acceleration, but I don't want to make excuses."