THIS Friday night the Bathurst Panthers will begin their bid for back-to-back pre-season knockout crowns, but before then members of the Group 10 Rugby League club will be seeking success of another kind.
Panther Star, a gelding named after the men in black, will line up in one of the feature finals of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club's Gold Crown Carnival on Wednesday.
Trained in Bathurst by Steve Jones and part owned by a group of Panthers, including premier league coach Todd Barrow, Panther Star qualified for the Honouree Final (2,260 metres).
Three heats of the series were staged at the Bathurst Paceway last Saturday, with the first three placegetters advancing to the $13,780 final.
Panther Star left no doubt about his spot, taking out the third heat.
With Emma Turnbull in the gig, he came from second last on the bell to win by a half head on the back of a strong run down the home straight.
Turnbull was pleased with that effort - the fourth win of his 18 start career - and more importantly for his owners, she feels Panther Star is improving.
"He did really well after settling and going forward, he's learning all the time and I'm happy with how he's going," she said.
"It worked out well, we didn't want to go too early."
Panther Star, a four-year-old Four Starzzz Shark x Lady Elise gelding, will go from barrier three in the final.
Fellow heat winners Mister Haywood (barrier two) and Sportygal (barrier nine) are expected to provide stiff opposition.