Norm Gardner hopeful Lethal Lady can produce in Black Opal Preview

The Norm Gardner-trained Lethal Lady was a nice winner on debut for jockey Mathew Cahill. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Canberra trainer Norm Gardner will set up-and-coming filly Lethal Lady for today’s $40,000 Black Opal Preview at Thoroughbred Park, with connections eyeing a potential tilt at the $200,000 Black Opal Stakes next month. 

“If she runs well and holds up, that’s where she will go,” Gardner said.

“She has been going well, but as you know, it is a day-by-day proposition with these young horses.”

The Smart Missile filly that is out of Madam Tilly, won on debut at Canberra earlier this month, showing off a nice turn of foot when taking out the 1000m two-year-old Handicap. 

She also beat home the highly touted Waterhouse and Bott youngster, Black Tahitian, and despite being rated a $5 chance behind the odds-on favourite on that particular day, Gardner was always confident she was the horse to beat.

“I don’t think I have ever been more confident going into a race,” Gardner said. 

“I knew how good she was going and Matty Cahill was on her and I knew she had a lot of ability and she proved that when winning.”

Gardner said Lethal Lady had come on nicely from her only run and would be very competitive in today’s event.

“I think she has improved from that run,” Gardner said. 

“She worked really well on Monday, which was her final hit-out and I couldn’t be happier with her.”

The Canberra trainer has a knack of getting youngsters up and running and he explained that he took a different approach with his two-year-olds. 

“I just don’t work them really hard,” Gardner said.  

“I work them different to the older horses. They are like kids, and they don’t need a lot of slow work

“We give them lots of short and sharp work and keep them happy and look after them.”

Gardner touched on Lethal Lady’s petite stature, hinting she would be better with age.  

“She is not a very big filly, and she will improve lengths on this prep,” Gardner said. 

“When you look at her breeding, she should be better later on.

“It is unusual for a Smart Missile to be a two-year old but the minute we started working her in fast work, we knew we could keep her going as a two-year-old but I don’t think we will see the best of her until later on.”

As far as next month’s Black Opal, Gardner was confident his filly could win today’s race, but he admitted it would be a huge step up in class if she contested the $200,000 two-year-old feature on March 13.

“The only thing that worries me is the draw (gate 13) tomorrow but she is a big chance,” Gardner said.

“I will reserve my (Black Opal) opinion until tomorrow because that is a different league again and I want to see how she goes.”

The Black Opal Preview is one of three features on the Canberra card today, with the $40,000 National Sprint Preview attracting some very good sprinting talent, while the $150,000 Canberra Mile is the main race on the program. 

Visitors can read more about Ron Weston and John Nisbet’s assault on the Canberra Mile with Mad As Zariz, or readers can click here for full fields.

For more information on attending the meeting, readers can click here.