Fun Mac following Shirocco Star path to Ebor Festival

At the start of the 2012 Flat season, Shirocco Star wouldn’t have been on the shortlists of many horse racing enthusiasts as one to watch for the upcoming campaign.

She had triumphed on her second maiden start as a two-year-old, but was only officially-rated 76 when starting her three-year-old campaign in a Listed contest at Newbury, in which she finished second.

From there, Shirocco Star was bridesmaid again in the Epsom Oaks, runner-up in the Irish equivalent and placed at Royal Ascot before arriving at York’s Ebor Festival with a rating of 112, which shows a seasonal improvement of 36lb.

Almost three years have passed since, but trainer Hughie Morrison has another Shirocco offspring that is taking giant strides up the ratings ladder.

Fun Mac was far more experienced having raced 10 times previously, but started this campaign off a mark of 84 when lining up for a handicap at Salisbury.

He won that by a commanding 11 lengths over 1m6f. The second that day, William Of Orange, has since finished third from a 6lb higher mark in another handicap at Glorious Goodwood, in which he was sent off favourite. This suggests the form is solid.

The Salisbury thrashing resulted in Fun Mac being hiked 14lb for his latest start, which was a first up in trip to 2m at Ascot. He led entering the final furlong but was outstayed in a battle in the closing stages by Clondaw Warrior.

Willie Mullins’ stayer has since entered the winner’s enclosure again in Ireland from a 7lb higher rating, where he still seemed slightly ahead of the handicapper.

Fun Mac’s next start following Ascot will be a return to 1m6f for the Ebor and a rating rise of another 4lb looks fair based on Clondaw Warrior’s latest achievement.

This means Morrison’s four-year-old will run off 102 in the Ebor and an early ante-post price of 20/1, with Ladbrokes offering the best industry odds, appears more than fair for the late-August showdown.

From a trends perspective, his age, rating, finish last time, calendar-year runs and form in big fields all fit in favourably with previous Ebor victors from the past two decades. Meanwhile, if Fun Mac is another Shirocco Star, he could still be thrown in at the weights at York.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.