Jaameh (inside) narrowly edged out Sully (Image: Racing Photos)
The first emotion was to think of what could have been but after the dust had settled from Jaameh's thrilling Queen Elizabeth Stakes win, the Lindsay Park team was looking forward 12 months to what could be.
Jaameh was one of 12 horses balloted from last Tuesday's Lexus Melbourne Cup, but co-trainer David Hayes after the race vowed the imported horse owned by Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Stud will be back at Flemington next year and challenging for one of the premier staying races in the world.
It was, however, hardly a textbook win from Jaameh, who put the writing on the wall when a strong third in last Saturday's Lexus Stakes.
He loomed to win but was passed by Sully inside the 200-metre mark and looked beaten, only to rally late and show that staying talent that the Lindsay Park team believe can take him to Group 1 3200-metre glory in 2019.
Hayes, himself, barely saw the finish after thinking that his winless run at Flemington over the week was about to continue.
"I was spitting the dummy when he (Sully) ran past him," he admitted.
"Mark (Zahra) gave it the perfect ride and then when the grey came up on the outside of him I thought 'Oh god, he's got us'.
"The way the week has gone, running seconds and thirds in good races all week."
On the line, Jaameh ($3.30 fav) held a half-head advantage over Sully ($10), with two lengths to Libran ($8) in third place.
Hayes said he felt Jaameh would have challenged for a slice of the Lexus Melbourne Cup pie if he had made the final field.
"He should have finished very close to A Prince Of Arran (in the Lexus)," Hayes said.
"He needs momentum and if you really watch the Hotham (Lexus), on the line, it was an old-fashioned great Cup trial. He was sticking on hard and he pulled up well."
Hayes then turned to watch the replay on the big screen.
"That horse ran a half a length past him," he said. "I am going to give Mark Zahra a kiss."
Jaameh won $180,000 for connections with the victory but also earned a $100,000 bonus for a horse that is balloted from the Melbourne Cup but wins the Queen Elizabeth.
Hayes said the win would force Jaameh's rating up, making it easier for him to make next year's Melbourne Cup field. But there are earlier targets in 2019.
"We'll put him aside for the Sydney Cup," Hayes said.
Zahra said Jaameh showed that staying was his forte.
"It was only the last 25 (metres) he got the upper hand," he said. "He used to be a little bit keen in his races but I put him asleep today and could have had him anywhere.
"I just bided my time and I got the split at the right time. He (Sully) sprinted a bit better than me but there was no stronger horse on the line."
The win continues a good run Zahra is having for Lindsay Park following the Moonee Valley Cup win aboard Ventura Storm last month.
"I've had a bit of luck with the team and I was apprenticed to them back in the day so it's always nice to be riding winners for them," Zahra said.
The woes of the runner-up Sully were compounded after the race when veterinary stewards reported the grey had pulled up lame in his off front.