Gavin Burke believes his greyhound Pantera Nera can make the early wake-up call worthwhile with victory in this Thursday’s Group 2 PPK Mining Group Gold Cup (450m).
Pantera Nera (pictured with Burke) took a step towards yet another feature race victory with a sizzling 24.93 win in last Thursday’s heats and is a $4.40 chance with TAB to take out the feature event.
The four-time Group race winner, who broke the 395m track record at Traralgon earlier this month in preparation for the Gold Cup, looks well drawn in box three for the $40,000-to-the-winner final.
Owner-trainer Burke (pictured) will leave his Victorian base at 3am on Wednesday morning to make the long trip to Maitland and ensure his greyhound is primed for the race.
“It certainly crosses your mind, ‘what am I doing’ when that alarm call goes off at 2.30am,” Burke said.
“He makes it worth it, though. I don’t like travelling up on the day for a race like this as I don’t think that would be the best build-up for him.
“He doesn’t mind the travelling though.
“This is a tough race but he has an exceptional record in these Group races and that’s what you want.”
Pantera Nera has won twice and placed twice in six previous starts from box three and also won over the 400m at Maitland earlier in his career.
The son of Mildean Panther and Go Jessie's Girl travelled up to NSW last year and won the Group 2 Black Top at Unibet Gardens and also scored a rare Devonport/Launceston cup double earlier this year.
Pantera Nera has been a terrific performer in 2017, scoring eight wins in 11 races and looks a huge chance for the final.
The strong opposition will include local superstar Ando’s Mac (box two, $3.80), who qualified as a runner-up behind brilliant winner Outside Pass (box four, $8), as well current race favourite Aussie Infrared (box eight, $3).
NSW star Falcon’s Fury ($4.20), meanwhile, looks ideally drawn in box one.
“Ando’s Mac and Outside Pass are proven Group-winning greyhounds,” Burke said.
“I also know Aussie Infrared as a fellow Victorian and that greyhound looks well drawn to me.
“(But) these one-turn tracks are ‘Panty’s’ niche and I think Pantera Nera is boxed beautifully.
“I don’t think you’re confident in a Group race but I’m certainly confident in his ability and his record.
“Hopefully he can cross the two inside him, get to the fence and then hold them out from there.”
The Gold Cup is race eight on the card and jumps at 9.40pm (NSW).
For Maitland Thursday fields, form and expert picks, click here.
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