Shuffle Dancer has edged out Royal Merchant in the concluding stages of the Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes to claim her first black-type victory of her career, after making the jump from a Benchmark 70 Handicap at Moonee Valley last start to a Group 2 at Sandown.
Royal Merchant led the field for 1350m of the 1400m event, but Shuffle Dancer, the online bookmaker's favourite, under the urgings of Ben Melham ran over the top of her late to score an impressive victory by just over a long neck on the line.
The I Am Invincible filly didn't have all the favours in the running as she was posted wide for most of the trip and had to make a sustained run out four-wide on the home turn before powering home to get the win.
Of the beaten brigade, Royal Merchant was very brave on speed and nearly pinched in the final 200m and Call Di worked home very nicely into third, going down as a “back me next start” type of run.
2023 Angus Armanasco Stakes Replay – Shuffle Dancer
“I thought she was super,” Coleman said.
“She was tough today and she did get a nice little cart into it, but she was tough through the line.
“She has had a little freshen up in between runs, so she will improve off this, but she was still strong through the line.
“That's really important black type for her today and then she'll probably head toward the Kewney now.”
Ben Melham brought up back-to-back wins in the Angus Armanasco Stakes after his win on Shuffle Dancer.
“She's a good filly,” Melham said.
“She hasn't got a lot of early tactical speed and in this race today it was my concern from an awkward draw and a tricky speed map.
“Good training performance, because he (Moody) had to put her on ice for a bit and he gave her a trial to keep her up to the mark.
“She was quite well and warm behind the barriers, so I would imagine she would improve again from that.”