Ian Fortune

For the first time this century, a classic will be shared after Saturday’s Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks provided the most incredible finish with the judge unable to separate Fleadh Saraide and A Lucky Julie.

Not since Lumber Boss and Tigers Eye won the 1999 Laurels has there been a dead-heat in a classic decider but after a long, long delay there was no way to part the front two in the €25,000 to the winner bitch classic.

It means that Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Melia is now an Oaks winning trainer for the first time, while Fleadh Saraide was providing Murt Leahy with his second Oaks title this decade after the brilliant victory of Raha Mofo in 2022.

K Begley Presents the Trophy to Murt Leahy and Damien Adams Presents The trophy to Gerry Melia after " A Lucky Julie and Fleadh Saraide Dead Heated in the Final of the Sporting Press On Line Edition Irish Oaks

Pictured: Seamus Begley presents the trophy to Murt Leahy and Damien Matthews presents the trophy to Gerry Melia after A Lucky Julie and Fleadh Saraide dead heated in the final of the Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks. Also pictured are DJ Histon CEO ICC, Mary Melia and Colette Ennis. Image by Imelda Grauer. 


It was clear from early that the hot favourite Droopys Mandolin had her work cut out as she failed to come away running from three. In contrast, her kennel companion Droopys Fidget went up fast in trap two to lead into the bend.

Just behind her, however, was Fleadh Saraide (Ballymac Best/ Fleadh Ramona) and her early speed and determination were to set off a chain of events that would ultimately turn this into one of the most memorable Oaks deciders in the long rich history of the classic.

Just behind the front two, Droopys Edel and Droopys Mandolin were ready to pounce if things went their way. Short Grip was on their outer with A Lucky Julie not far behind in last.


It was in the next fifty yards that the outcome was decided. Fleadh Saraide charged up the inner of Droopys Fidget on the corner to move to the front. The latter checked off the turn before edging back in between the two bends.

Droopys Mandolin seemed perfectly poised for a brief moment but as Droopys Fidget came back in towards the fence, the pair bumped before bumping again as the favourite attempted to move to the middle of the track.

Suddenly, Fleadh Saraide found herself five lengths clear for the Leahy Ladies Syndicate and looking in complete command. Behind the pace-setter, A Lucky Julie (Ballymac Bolger/ A Lucky Julie) had avoided the second bend crowding and was now challenging for second with Droopys Edel.


The race was now on. Fleadh Saraide continued to hold a commanding clear into the third turn but it was inevitable that the two exceptional bitches challenging for second would close the gap.

For the connections of Fleadh Saraide the line couldn’t come soon enough, while A Lucky Julies substantial fan club would have done anything for an extra ten yards. Both A Lucky Julie and Droopys Edel advanced on the leader around the last two bends but Fleadh Saraide entered the home straight with almost three lengths in hand but the cavalry were on a full charge in behind.


In a desperate finish, A Lucky Julie stayed wide on the track to make her move. Droopys Edel stayed closer to the fence but continued to close. With each stride, the chasing pair got closer to Fleadh Saraide before the trio flashed past the winning post locked in battle.

A Lucky Julie was wide on the track with Fleadh Saraide closer to the inside rail. A quick freezeframe confirmed the judge had his work cut out and the lengthy delay confirmed the fact. In fact, such was the debate over the result that official word didn’t come through until after the subsequent race on the card.

It was finally declared that Fleadh Saraide and A Lucky Julie would share the title of 2024 Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks winner in 28.53. Droopys Edel was just a half-length adrift in third, while Droopys Mandolin was next, some three lengths further back.

Murt Leahy with Fleadh Saraide and Mary Melia with A lucky Julie after They Dead Heated in the Final of the Sporting Press On Line Edition Sporting Press Irish Oaks

Pictured: Murt Leahy with Fleadh Saraide and Mary Melia with A lucky Julie after they dead heated in the final of the Sporting Press Online Edition Sporting Press Irish Oaks. Image by Imelda Grauer.


Some fifteen minutes before the Oaks decider, Peter Comerford’s Lets Go Bubbles ran out a ready winner of the consolation Oaks final. Here Rathdown Molly set a searing pace into the turn but sadly lost her action as she hit the second corner.

It meant that Lets Go Bubbles, who was racing prominently, was left in the front of the second turn. Once going to the front, the result was confirmed. Driving further and further clear, the Owen McKenna trained daughter of Droopys Sydney and Jetstream Lynx hit the line six lengths clear of Chelsea Patin 28.33.