GOING into the $15,500 Bathurst Gold Cup on Monday at Kennerson Park, every trainer with an entry had reason to be wary of Clergate's Marty Hallinan and his finalists Zipping Tess and Zipping Gilbert.
Less than 30 seconds after the lure rolled past the boxes, the pair had shown just why they are so highly rated as they delivered a brilliant quinella, Zipping Tess taking the honours and the $12,000 winner's prize.
She won a thrilling battle with her kennel-mate, saluting by just a neck after making the most of a brilliant start.
"She was always in with a big shot of winning, it came down to whether she could get away to a fast start and she did that," handler Trevor Jones said in Hallinan's absence after the win.
"Even after she got out to a big lead though I still thought the other one would get her though, he was taking ground off her over the last few hundred metres."
Out of box four, Zipping Tess started as a relative outsider at $9.40 despite a reasonably amount of experience in strong company, and it was Zipping Gilbert who took the punters' fancy, sent out a $2.90 favourite.
That came on the back of a sizzling heat win, while Clair Vision from box three was also well supported at $3.20.
Each of the two favourites were away strongly while Zipping Tess matched them, and if anything Zipping Gilbert may have suffered the most interference as the three of them jostled for front spot down the front straight and into turn one.
From box eight Crash Model ($26.80) was also quickly away, and into the bend it looked like the race could turn into a lottery.
That was when Zipping Tess turned it on though, and in a flash she established a three length lead over Crash Model and Zipping Gilbert.
Crash Model began to tire down the back straight and suddenly the only competitor within sight of the leader was her own kennelmate, who started to pull back ground in quick time.
As they headed into the run for home, a slightly awkward turn would have allowed Zipping Gilbert to slip past the leader but she did enough to hold her ground and just managed to stick her neck out when it counted.
A further four lengths back was King Cobber ($5.10) who ran home nicely for third. The winning time was a slick 29.86 seconds.
It was a memorable victory for the three-year-old who is nearing the end of her career, and according to Jones it was a fitting result given the racing that the runner-up still has in front of him having only turned two last October. “She [Zipping Tess] is getting to the end of her racing life, she's four in November so she doesn't have a lot left. It was a great win for her," he said.