Trained by Gavin Burke, the speedster comes into the final having won the Group 3 Devonport Cup on Tuesday, his third successive victory heading into Saturday’s event.
The son of Milldean Panther and Go Jessie’s Girl contested a quality field to bring home the $25,000 prize, defeating Your Shout Punk by one-and-one-quarter lengths in 25.36.
The victory took his career record to 25 wins and 15 minor placings from 49 starts, with his prize money earnings now in excess of $212,000.
Burke said he was elated with the win, Pantera Nera’s third at group level.
“It was a big effort to win down there – whilst the people were nice the tracks are different in that there is no outside fence whereas in Melbourne they have solid fencing all the way around,” he told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“In his heat he ran into the first turn and I don’t think he really knew where to go as you can see out onto the trotting track and beyond.
“Thankfully he improved a lot off his heat performance for the final and was able to get the job done.”
The Hazelwood North trainer says his charge has pulled up well following his Tasmanian assault and is feeling good ahead of the Warragul Cup heats.
“We got home this morning and I put him in his normal run and he was wanting to run with the other dogs so at this stage I would say he has pulled up good.
“It’s normally a good sign when they want to work after a run so I am happy with how he has coped with the run and the travel.”
Pantera Nera will take on star Victorian Jesaulenko (box five) in his heat of the $47,000-to-the-winner series in addition to a number of quality greyhounds such as Sleek Master (box three), Black Mumbo (box six) and He’s Some Love (box seven).
The lid-pinger will start wearing the pink stretch vest, a draw which Burke believes is suitable.
“Box eight is ideal for him – it is almost like his box one.
“I know it can sometimes be hard to cross, but he loves it out there and he has got tremendous pace – even if he misses it a little bit it still gives him time to muster and get towards the lead.
“Obviously his early pace is his biggest asset so he can’t afford to be giving these dogs a start, but I honestly can’t think of a time where he has really messed up the start.
“He is just a very reliable dog.”
At three years and two months of age, Burke mentioned his charge is racing at his peak, but says he will still have to do everything right to qualify for the final.
“With age I definitely think he has gotten wiser – he is a smarter race dog in how he races now as opposed to at the start of his career.
“He is also stronger – as he has matured with age and experience he is running out his races better.
“In general, he is just a good dog – he doesn’t do a lot wrong – he travels well, kennels well and does most thing right in his races – he is close to the perfect dog.
“With that being said he won’t be able to make any mistakes this week, but the dog is a professional so hopefully he can do what he normally does and repeat it again in the final.”
All up, five heats are set to be run and won this Saturday night, with each of the winners plus the three fastest seconds set to progress through to the final on January 28.
Group 2 Warragul Cup – series winner
Zambora Brockie $3
Aston Bolero $7.50
Aston Dee Bee $8.50
Ando’s Mac $10
Pantera Nera $10 with Bet365
Zabdon Ferrari $13
Ultimate Magic $13
Shima Song $21
Your Shout Punk $21
Blazin’ Bomber $21
Sleek Master $21
Shytown Hussler $26
Proven Kodiak $26
Shez Sublime $26
Paddy’s Magic $34
Black Mumbo $34
Mystery Ride $41
Aqua Cheetah $41
Dundee Osprey $51
Nitro Swagger $67
Zipping Arnold $67
Super Sook $67
Nangar Range $81
Mumma Josie $81
Hyundai Hawk $151
Crackerjack Choc $151
Wynburn Alpha $151
Cry Later $201
Night King $201
He’s Some Love $201
Dr. Sherlock $301
Dr. Yanma $301
Zall Good $501
Brooklyn Cruiser $1001
Precious Quality $1001