THRILLING speedster Pantera Nera will be aimed at next Sunday’s Group 2 Bendigo Cup (425m) heats following his all-the-way triumph in the Group 2 Traralgon Cup (525m) on Saturday night.
Jumping brilliantly from box six, the son of Milldean Panther and Go Jessie’s Girl went straight to the early lead and was never headed, holding off the fast finishing Demon Bale (box four) to score by just under half a length in 30.19.
Trainer Gavin Burke was delighted with the victory when speaking with Australian Racing Greyhound on Sunday.
“Its not every day you make a group 2 final so I was pretty nervous, but we were hoping we had a dog which could lead,” Burke said.
“Realistically he had to lead to be a chance because he wasn’t the strongest dog in the race.
“As it turned out he jumped beautifully and he made his own luck out in front.
“It was our first group win and it was very exciting…we are absolutely ecstatic.”
Burke admits he had a few nervous moments during the race, with the super strong Demon Bale stalking his sprinter throughout the event.
“The only dog I didn’t want getting through and sitting behind him was Demon Bale.
“When I saw it on the fence a few lengths off him I thought we were in a bit of trouble knowing that he had run down the track record holder, Jesaulenko, in his heat the week prior.
“But credit to my dog, his first few splits were very quick and it helped set the race up for him and he had done enough to hold on over the closing stages.”
Pantera Nera has now won 13 races from 28 starts with $76,162 in career earnings, including nine from 14 since joining Burke’s kennel at the beginning of the year. A former NSW greyhound, Burke and his wife Leanne purchased the black dog, whose name means ‘Black Panther’ with the hopes he would transform into a group class performer.
“We spent a lot of time researching the times throughout the 2015 Dapto Auction series and he stood out because of his fast early sectionals.
“We got him down here and he had two starts for us but he wasn’t jumping like we thought he should be so we got him checked and his blood was all over the place.
“We gave him a month off and focused on getting him right and since then he has just kept improving.
“We paid a fair bit of money to buy him from NSW but we have nearly doubled what we paid for him so the risk has well and truly paid off.”
Burke now plans on taking Pantera Nera to Bendigo the $47,000 to the winner Group 2 Bendigo Cup, heats of which will be run and won over the 425m trip next Sunday.
“We will head towards the Bendigo Cup with him now – the distance is a lot shorter but his best asset is his early pace so we are hopefully that he will acquit himself well.
“To be honest there are few dogs which can match him early – his first and second sections are breathtaking.
“Of course you always need luck in these types of races, but hopefully he can go there and keep doing what he has been doing.”