Ian Fortune

Saturday’s card at Shelbourne Park was littered with superb performances. The display of Ballyhimikin Rex in the finale served as the cherry on top but the semi-finals of the RCETS Open 525 and quarter finals of the Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks were very much the appetiser and main course.

Epic Chick went fastest in the Oaks but the one take out of the quarter final action was just how open this year’s bitch classic is. Droopys Edel, Deelish Nora and Short Grip were also hugely impressive in their respective heats, leaving a brilliant dozen in next week’s semi-finals.    


Epic Chick was a superb winner of the opening heat, showing all her speed and power to get the better of some really top class rivals in the opening heat. Epic Chick was fastest into stride but Lincoln Legacy flew up the fence to assert on the corner.

In doing so, she forced Droopys Mandolin to check wide, leaving Epic Chick in second. Lincoln Legacy was always under severe pressure, however, with Epic Chick, Beretta Melba and Droopys Mandolin turning behind her.

It was clear the leader, who is not renowned as a strong stayer, was in a spot of bother. This was confirmed into the third turn as Epic Chick joined and shot past the pace-setter. Beretta Melba and Droopys Mandolin also advanced. 

Beretta Reba moved second at the third turn, while Droopys Mandolin came through into third but Epic Chick was clear and showing no signs of taking her foot off the pedal. John Kennedy’s daughter of Grangeview Ten and Jaytee Osprey emerged a two and a half length winner over Beretta Reba in a rapid 28.27. Droopys Mandolin recovered from her opening bend traffic to take third, some two lengths further back.


Droopys Edel faced a potentially very tough draw in Heat 2 but a slick exit and an impressive turn of early pace saw her take complete control in the early yards.

AS things got tight on the inside of the track, Droopys Edel slipped around with a clear advantage. Kerogue Lady flew up the outside of the track to turn second but was always fighting an uphill battle to get on terms with the pace-setter.

Droopys Edel displayed no signs of taking her foot off the pedal down the back straight. Kerogue Lady sat just a length behind but it was clear she was never going to get to Droopys Edel. Kicking of the final turn, Sean Dunphy’s Droopy Edel edged on to emerge a deserving winner.

The Ian Reilly trained daughter of King Sheeran and Droopys Hunch hit the line three and a half lengths clear of Kerogue Lady in 28.33. Beretta Melba was a further four lengths adrift in third. 


Short Grip made short work of her task in the final heat, showing tremendous early speed to get loose into the bend before making all. Droopys Fidget got the better of Chelsea Pat to turn second but she found herself over four lengths behind Pat Cocoman’s pace-setter as they entered the back straight.

Short Grip was never going to be picked up with the daughter of Grangeview Ten and Mystical Luna maintaining a relentless gallop throughout to stop the clock in 28.33. In contrast, Droopys Fidget had to dig deep to hold second as A Lucky Julie arrived with a real rush into the third turn.

The battle for second went right to the line but Droopys Fidget held on, finishing three and a half lengths behind Short Grip. There was just a half-length to A Lucky Julie after her remarkable run in third. 


Deelish Nora displayed real graft to win the final heat, albeit nothing was certain until the closing yards with so many of the field in contention of the final turn. This was a truly outstanding race with Fleadh Saraide setting a strong gallop after charging into the opening turn.

This set up a series of evens that left the verdict wide open until the final strides. Deelish Nora turned second and flew into the third turn to show in front. Fleadh Saraide charged the third turn again, however, forcing Deelish Nora to check her stride. Ballymac Run was now on the scene and challenging, while Born To Perform and Lets Go Bubbles were also advancing.

Off the final turn, Fleadh Saraide was still in front but Deelish Nora was less than a length adrift and closing fast. Behind the pair, Ballymac Run, Lets Go Bubbles and Born To Perform were really motoring.

Deelish Nora (Droopys Sydney/ Ballymac Orna) finally got on top for Ginger McGee and JS Porter in the closing yards, hitting the line three parts of a length to the good in 28.55. Born To Perform, who was still last at the third turn, flew home to take second with the third spot going to Fleadh Saraide another half lengths adrift. Ballymac Run and Lets Gi Bubbles lost out by only inches in fourth and fifth.

Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks

Semi-final draw

Heat 1

1 Droopys Mandolin

2 Born To Perform

3 Droopys Edel

4 Droopys Fidget

5 Epic Chick (w)

6 Kerogue Lady (w)


Heat 2

1Beretta Melba

2 Fleadh Saraide

3 Deelish Nora

4 Beretta Reba

5 Short Grip (m)

6 A Lucky Julie (w)




Abbeyside Spice has long been known for her outstanding early speed but she looked more than just a one trick pony in the second heat of the hugely valuable RCETS Open 525, dominating from start to finish to repel some talented rivals.

This was clearly a career best run from the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Cunnigar Spice as she flew to the bend to make every inch. Trained by Murt Leahy for the Seven Aside Syndicate, Abbeyside Spice was relentless as she went on to score by two and a half lengths from Bonkersinyonkers in a sizzling 28.26. Niosfearrnabolt was another two lengths adrift in third.


Peter Comerford’s Neko Harbour hasn’t quite shown the sensational early speed possessed by his incredible dam, Susie Sapphire, but he certainly has a massive engine and it was seen to great effect in the opening semi-final as he burst up the fence to take charge on the third turn.

Dark Dilemma went up fastest but was always under pressure with Kapuka Warrior and Neko Harbour turning within striking distance. Kapuka Warrior had first run at the leader and slipped into the lead at the second turn as Dark Dilemma stepped wide.

Neko Harbour also moved through the gap, however, and the son of Droopys Sydney was ultimately too close in second spot. Nudging up the inside of the new pace-setter into the third turn, the Owen McKenna trained youngster moved to the front before staying on well to secure a three lengths victory over Kapuka Warrior in 28.63. Miami King was best of the rest in third, some four lengths adrift.


Final draw

1 Miami King

2 Bonkersinyonkers

3 Kapuka Warrior

4 Abbeyside Spice

5 Niosfearrnabolt

6 Neko Harbour



Billy and John Dunne displayed real craft, patience and care in bringing Ballyhimikin Rex back from injury. A top-class performer in 2023, he has shown signs of a return to his very best in recent weeks but his display in the finale over 525yds gave a clear indication that he is as good as ever.

The son of Ballyhimikin Jet and Slaneyside Poppy came in for strong support in the ring and it was soon evident it was inspired. Showing tremendous early speed, he was quickly in command and increased his advantage with every stride. 

On a night when so many stars impressed, none went as fast as Ballyhimkin Rex who emerged a brilliant eight length winner in a sensational 28.10. Droopys Carbine was second. Have no doubt, Ballyhimikin Rex is back and ready to make waves.


Ballymac Thelad displayed all sorts of pace in the recent Champion open Unraced at Kilkenny so it was no surprise to see him go fast in the A2 third race for Liam Dowling. The powerful son of Ballymac Cashout and Ballymac Cams was headed early by the fast starting Droopys Cynthia but he flew up the fence to strike the front on the bend.

He quickly opened a commanding advantage before coasting home a very easy eight length winner over Ballygur Orla in a superb 28.29. Have no doubt, the winner is a real Shelbourne Park greyhound and we will be seeing plenty of him in the coming months.


Arent We All made a return to wining ways in the A1 fifth race, hitting the front into the turn before going on to make every yard thereafter despite the best efforts of the strong running Droopys Comrade.

The latter actually broke fastest but Arent We All went to the front and stayed there despite running a little wide on the corner. Trained by David Murray for Alan Devine, the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Jet Ski Queen held of the advancing Droopys Comrade by a head in 28.55.


The tightest finish of the night came in the fifth race with Droopys Tico arriving late and fast to deny Ballymac Wendy. The latter seemed certain to score when getting loose early but Droopys Tico had other ideas.

Trained by Robert Gleeson for the White Eagle Syndicate, the son of Burgess Bucks and Droopys Berry flew up the straight to join the long-time leader on the line. The pair were very close at the finish and the judge took his time to declare the winner. The nod eventually went to Droopys Tico by a short head in 29.93.


Hilldun Pest came home clear in the A1 opener for Willie Mongey. Prominent from the outset, the daughter of Ballymac Anton and Roseville Dawn took over from Galliagh Darkie at the third turn before easing on to eventually cross the line four lengths to the good over Ballymac Braxton in a very useful 28.60.


Darbys Queen forced her way to the front at the turn in the second race, effectively ending the chances of her rivals. Once in front, the Pat Devaney trained daughter of Burgess Bucks and Bower Deise always looked comfortable as she ran all the way to the line to beat Urban Flight by two and a half lengths in 28.65.