James McDonald guides Tenley to victory in Reisling Stakes at Randwick on Saturday. Picture: Mark Evans/Getty Images
James McDonald guides Tenley to victory in Reisling Stakes at Randwick on Saturday. Picture: Mark Evans/Getty Images

Tenley steps up as Tassort ruled out of Slipper

WITHIN hours of Tassort being ruled out of the Golden Slipper, stablemates Tenley and Exhilarates stepped up with a one-two finish at Royal Randwick.

Unbeaten filly Tenley ($3.50 favourite) finished fast on Saturday to defeat Exhilarates ($4.40) in the Group 2 $300,000 Reisling Stakes (1200m) in race record time of 1m 8.34s.

It is the fastest time a two-year-old has run over the Randwick 1200m and an emphatic statement before the $3.5 million Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 23.

Tenley's win and the impressive effort of runner-up Exhilarates gave trainer James Cummings reason to smile after he was forced to spell his boom colt and long-time Golden Slipper favourite Tassort due to a hoof injury after trackwork on Saturday morning.

"I've got 200 horses in great shape and only one who has to go to the paddock,'' Cummings said.

Tenley, on track to become the first grey to win the Golden Slipper since Bounding Away in 1986, finished powerfully to win by 1½ lengths from Exhilarates with Vincere Volare ($7) a half-length away third.

The Reisling Stakes is one of the more reliable Golden Slipper guides, with Estijaab (2018) and Overreach (2013) completing the double in recent years, and She Will Reign (2017) and Mossfun (2014) both coming off second placings in the first leg to win the Slipper.

"That's worked out pretty well,'' Cummings said after the Godolphin stable quinella.

"Tenley has improved out of sight like you would not believe. She is a pretty special filly.''

James McDonald, rider of Tenley, was taken by the filly's impressive win.

"She's a ripper,'' he said. "She travelled good and got a lovely cart into the race then she just goes bang.

"She's got a great constitution, she absorbs pressure, got a great turn of foot and she sustains a really good gallop. She ticks a lot of boxes."

Cummings maintains Magic Millions winner Exhilarates will take improvement into the Golden Slipper in two weeks.

"Exhilarates was very, very good,'' the trainer said. "She had not raced since January 12 and this race will be perfect for her going to the Golden Slipper.

"Hopefully she has a touch of the Capitalist about her two weeks out from the Slipper and is ready to bounce back to her very best.''

Exhilarates's rider Kerrin McEvoy is also keeping the faith ahead of the world's richest juvenile race.

"She ran well, she's obviously had the let up since last run, she'll improve with that and be cherry ripe for Slipper day,'' he said.