After celebrating Group glory at his very first attempt in the recent Traralgon Cup Gavin Burke and his NSW ‘recruit’ Pantera Nera (pictured) will take aim at back-to-back country cup victories in Friday night’s Group 2 3BO 93.5 FM Bendigo Cup.
“It’s a good thing to be getting used to, I can tell you!” 50-year-old Burke quipped.
“It’s not going to last forever so you’ve got to enjoy the ride while it lasts. It definitely makes it easier getting up on cold mornings when you’ve got something that can mix it with the best.”
While Burke declined to disclose the purchase price, his gamble to pay “good money” for Pantera Nera after running third in the Group 2 Dapto Puppy Classic last December has paid off handsomely, with the brilliant frontrunner winning 10 of his 15 Victorian starts, highlighted by his all-the-way Traralgon Cup triumph.
“He didn’t come cheap so it was a bit of a risk but we’ve basically doubled our money to the dollar now,” Burke said.
“I watched the Dapto Auction series and ear-marked four dogs in the final I was interested in buying. When I rang the owner of Pantera Nera what she wanted and what I was willing to pay were a long way apart but eventually we came to an agreement and he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do so far.”
Pantera Nera will be chasing another $47,000 pay day in Friday’s Bendigo Cup after holding Pure Titanium and Ando’s Mac at bay in a blanket finish to last Sunday’s final heat, clocking 23.79sec.
Pantera Nera overcame box six in the Traralgon Cup and he’ll have to contend with another tricky alley at Bendigo after drawing five, with fastest qualifier Unlawful Entry and eight-time Group finalist Aston Bolero looming as the major stumbling blocks.
“Even though he’s got the pace it was a big ask dropping back from 525m at Traralgon to 425m at Bendigo,” Burke said.
“I know his heat was very close but because of his racing pattern he’s often going to be a sitting duck for something getting home and he was able to hold off a couple of very good dogs.
“His early speed is his best asset and he’ll need to use it again on Friday. He’s not a dog that can come from behind so he’ll need to be jumping and leading and if he can lead they’ll have to run some very fast sections to catch him, let alone get past him.”