A slashing victory for Tactical Advantage and a perfect Matriarch Stakes audition from Aliferous helped ease the Melbourne Cup disappointment for Newcastle trainer Kris Lees and Hunter owners Australian Bloodstock at Flemington on Tuesday.
The combination and jockey Damien Oliver were second last with Mustajeer ($19), more than 10 lengths off winner Vow And Declare, in the Cup after a tough trip.
Caught three wide for much of the race, the seven-year-old Great Britain import was taken around the field early on the home turn but failed to make any ground.
Oliver, a three-time Cup winner, blamed the surprisingly slow pace early in the $8 million 3200m race.
"They just went ridiculously slow and it didn't suit my horse and he probably didn't get a chance to run to his best," Oliver said.
After Tactical Advantage's win later in the day in the listed 1200m race, Australian Bloodstock director Jamie Lovett did not hide his disappointment with the Cup run.
"I'm just gutted he didn't live up to expectations but that's racing," Lovett told Racing.com.
However, Aliferous and Tactical Advantage provided reason to celebrate.
With the group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington this Saturday as a possible target, Aliferous was set the 1700m mares race on Tuesday as a preparation run.
The four-year-old showed she was up to the task with a fast-finishing second to Sure Knee after jockey Brenton Avdulla brought her from well back in the field.
Tactical Advantage, which has former Newcastle Knight Mark Hughes among his owners, went one better two races after the Cup.
Oliver gave Tactical Advantage a covered run behind the pace before the six-year-old blitzed his rivals in the closing stages to win the $175,000 event by 1.5 lengths.
"He's a nice horse to ride down the straight actually because he likes that sniping sort of ride and I don't mind it either," Oliver said.
"And we were just able to forget about him early and we had some nice horses to follow and if we were going to win, we were going to win it inside the 200 and it worked out perfectly.
"He felt good. That's probably as far as he wants but that nice, cold sort of ride suits him.
"Probably his run last start was better, I felt, but just the structure and the pace of the race didn't work for him.
"Just a little drop in class today, he was well placed by Kris, and it was nice to get a winner for him on Cup day."
Lees told Racing.com: "We were really happy with the horse. He came out of his Caulfield run quite well.
"Unknown up the straight, but he got a lovely ride and everything set up perfectly for him with that good tempo and Damien exposed him at the right time and he was strong late.
"These are the days you want to be involved in and it's great to have a winner, especially with Damien. He puts a lot of effort into our horses when we come down and we really appreciate it."
Lovett said: "He deserved that.
"All prep he's been set to win a race over the carnival but nothing's gone right.
"Oli gave him a great ride and it's a bit of a relief actually.".