Starting from box eight as the $2.40 favourite, the Gavin Burke-trained chaser was well into stride, carving across the field to slip into second spot behind roughie Mystic Quality (box six) in the charge around the first turn.
Heading into the back straight and the son of Mildean Panther and Go Jessie’s Girl was giving the leader a three length start, with classy local chaser Maja Mahi Mahi hot on his heels back in third.
Coming off the back and Pantera Nera was able to sneak along the fence, railing through to take the lead entering the home straight. In the run to the line the black dog had to dig deep, holding off a late challenge from the fast-finishing Maja Mahi Mahi to score by three quarters of a length in 29.72.
Charlie Lamb, the trainer of Maja Mahi Mahi, also trained the third placegetter, One Hill, which stormed home from the back of the pack to finish just two lengths behind the winner.
The victory was the 20th of Pantera Nera’s career at start 36, with the former NSW greyhound having also taken out the Group 2 Traralgon Cup and qualified for the Group 2 Dapto Puppy Classic and the Group 2 Bendigo Cup, with the winner’s cheque taking his career earnings to $142,917.
It was an action-packed meeting on a cold and wet night at The Gardens, with the The Macca Sprinters Cup, named after legendary Hunter Valley race caller John McDermott, won by Mark Davidson’s Rapid Dominance in 29.82.
The other major feature of the night, the Sonia Hornery Stayers Cup, named after the Wallsend MP who recently collected 37,000 signatures in support of the sport, was won by the ultra-impressive Mr Shire.