Chiara boarded a plane to Moscow early this morning, earning a day's rest before she hits the stage for her first Eurovision Song Contest rehearsal on Monday.

The queen of ballads, who will be competing with the song What If We in the first semi-final on May 12, is looking forward to getting accustomed to the stage, which is almost entirely made up of different types of LED screens.

Some nations were already emerging as favourites to win the final on May 16, with the majority of UK bookmakers citing Norway, Greece and Turkey as the top three. Malta is in seventh place with odds of 14/1.

Chiara was not particularly keen on following bookmakers' predictions, preferring to just focus on her goal to do well and make it to the final, something that has eluded Malta for some years. "I tend to ignore the polls. They don't always get it right," she said, as she attempted to handle last-minute commitments before her departure.

Chiara, who came close to clinching the Eurovision title twice, in 1998 and 2005, has always had to brush off snide remarks about her weight, so the unexpected hype over new singing sensation Susan Boyle came as a breath of fresh air.

The 48-year-old frumpy Scot left millions of viewers worldwide speechless when she competed in Britain's Got Talent, singing I Dream A Dream from Les Miserables. Suddenly everybody was listening and appearance became irrelevant.

"I'm not going to compare myself to Susan Doyle but one of my battles has always exactly been that appearances should not be given such importance. It's encouraging to see this," she said.

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