AFTER five months of hard luck and narrow defeats, Panther Star ended his winless streak in most impressive fashion at the Bathurst Paceway on Wednesday night.
With Nathan Hurst in the gig, Panther Star came from last with 600 metres to go to take the spoils in the Lexus Of Dubbo Pace (1,730 metres).
He made up ground quickly down the back straight despite the front runner clocking a 28.5 seconds split, then showed strength down the home straight to post a career best 1:56.4 winning mile rate.
The sustained effort in the long, searching run – much of it four wide on the track – certainly impressed the winning driver.
“He’s been going really well,” Hurst said.
“He’s got a lot of ability. He’s got a racing pattern where he’s got to come from last, but there was a bit of speed on tonight which helps.
“At the 600 he was a long way off them, he got to them pretty quickly, but he still did a lot of toughing it out down the straight.”
Having not won since March 18, the Steve Jones trained Panther Star started as a $6 chance.
Going from barrier eight, Hurst opted out of the early speed battle and dropped to the tail of the field.
Ahead of him Rainbow On Fire punched on from a wide barrier seven draw to cross and take the lead at the 1,350 metre mark, settling two lengths in front of $3.20 favourite Nota Bad Move.
As the bell sounded Ma Koo Loo Hambo rolled up into the death seat, while the opening split for the last mile of 28.8 seconds meant Panther Star was still a chance despite being at the rear.
At the 700m mark it was still Rainbow On Fire who led the way ahead of Ma Koo Loo Hambo, while Nota Bad Move sat in the trail with driver Mat Rue waiting for the sprint lane.
Finally Hurst decided to get moving with Panther Star, beginning a four wide move as the final bend approached.
As they balanced in the straight Rainbow On Fire held the lead and Nota Bad Move ducked into the sprint lane, but Panther Star was rapidly making up ground.
With 100m to go Panther Star hit the front, going on to win by 2¼m over Bernie Hewitt's Gunna Cullect ($4.60). While Ma Koo Loo Hambo ($4.60) had looked gone at the top of the straight, Amanda Turnbull urged him to give again and he finished in third, a further 3½m back.
Danny Dwyer, one of Panthers Star’s part-owners, was also impressed with the run of the five-year-old Four Starzzz Shark x Lady Elise gelding.
“He hasn’t had a lot of luck the last couple of starts, but tonight with the speed on he showed what he can do … he’s got a good sprint on him,” he said.
The win was the fifth of Panther Star’s 31-start career.
Just as it was a good evening for Panther Star’s connections, so too did driver Mitch Turnbull enjoy success.
Turnbull notched up a winning treble on Wednesday night with Lockton Loaded ($6.40), Sportygal ($8) and Quaint Glen ($1.30 favourite).