Ian Fortune

The Sporting Press are back on board to sponsor the Irish Oaks which commences at Shelbourne Park this evening. Of course, the card also features the final of the Shelbourne Champion 550 and the resulting action should be near unmissable.

Predictably, the cream of Ireland’s female talent will be on hand to flex their muscles, while Carmac King will bid to justify favouritism in the €7,500 Shelbourne Champion 550.


Carmac King has been in imperious form, winning his last five outings in ultra-professional manner. His development into one of the best in training has been very evident to anyone paying attention and he will b a worthy favourite this evening.

His task is far from an easy one, however. Carrick Keano, Syd Zafiro and Maireads Prince will be his nearest rivals in the market, while the outsiders Swords Hero and Silverhill Adam are doing more than just filling boxes.

Indeed, Silverhill Adam won his semi-final from the front, while Swords Hero was an impressive opening round scorer when making all from trap four, the same box from which he races this evening.

Carrick Keano is exceptionally fast but has lost his trapping boots in recent weeks. If he were to find them, he is more than capable of urning over Carmac King.

Syd Zafiro, a kennel companion to the favourite, is destined for big things. He too has tremendous pace and a trap one draw is ideal. If he were to hit the ground running, he too could emerge a big player.

Maireads Prince has fine pace from the second turn but needs to find a way to turn closer than normal. That leads us back to Carmac King. Blessed with all the attributes needed to be a top class performer, he can again race prominently into the turn and will look to assert at this point. If he does manage to turn in front, which seems more likely than not in a race not bursting with early speed, he would take the world of beating. Carrick Keano and Syd Zafiro are selected to chase him home.


This year’s Sporting Press Irish Oaks promises to be another vintage renewal. The quality of the bitches over the past five to six years has been off the charts and this year is no exception. One of the undoubted stars of this year’s classic is Droopys Mandolin.

She signed off at the end of 2023 in the best possible way, showing the most incredible pace to win at the Winter Racing Festival. That was her last race start and there will be great excitement ahead of her return in Heat 6.

In what is her first start since early December, the Robert Gleeson trained star may be in need of the run but her quality can see her through. From a favourable draw in three she is chosen to see off the talented duo of Droopys Edel and Kyanite Kate.


Short Grip is another of the very best in training and she returns to Shelbourne in the last of the ten heats where she faces some razor-sharp rivals. Short Grip was a brilliant runner-up in the Juvenile Derby

around Shelbourne last year and her recent Limerick Oaks success suggests she will be as good, if not better, this year.

She needs to come away racing from an outside draw but is selected to lead home a talented field that includes Lincoln Legacy, Poets Dawn and Bredas Wood.


A couple of hugely promising ladies clash in the opening heat with Kirby Memorial finalist Epic Chick and the powerful Sober Sparkle both amongst the leading fancies. Throw in the talented Ballymac Run and Droopys Zelda and it’s quit a contest to kick off the Oaks.

From an ideal draw on the outside, Epic Chick just gets the nod but one suspects Sober Sparkle and Droopys Zelda could have a say in the outcome.


Early speed could be the key ingredient for Kerogue Lady in the second heat. She has shown plenty of promise in her short career and could yet develop into a leading Oaks contender if finding consistency at boxes. She is selected to make every inch to see off Glenbervie Pookie and Droopy Have It.


Deelish Nora has already impressed around Shelbourne Park in recent weeks and she could be the one to beat in Heat 3. Velvet Duchess looks an intriguing runner in this contest but the draw might work in favour of Deelish Nora, who is chosen to lead early to see off her rival. Mikeys Millie is also respected as she wears her favourite red jacket.


Select Stakes winner Droopys Fidget is on a real hot streak and it would be unwise to oppose her in Heat 4 where she is drawn on the fence. A consistent starter with the power and pace to compete against the boys, she is once again selected to A Lucky Julie who ran up the Select Stakes.


Heat 5 is one of the more open of the round but slight preference is for the Murt Leahy trained Headinthewindow, who has plenty of good form around Shelbourne. She will need to get first run on Beepers Mary but if doing so, could emerge as the one to beat.


Derby finalist and one of the best stayers in business, Threesixfive is back in action in Heat 7. A recent flying trial highlights her well-being and the Scot Phelan trained star is chosen to make a winning comeback after five months off the track. She can turn close before outgunning the likes of the exciting Tell On Bella and the in-form Annie On Faya.


Rathdown Molly would have blown away the cobwebs in a couple of recent outings and should be for an Oaks challenge when she lines out in Heat 8. Blessed with tremendous early dash, she can lead up the inside of the track and perhaps contain Droopy Kamari into the turn to lead around.

Lets Go Bubbles was back to her best last week and can emerge a threat but Rathdown Molly is chosen to make every inch for Bill Mulholland and Marie Gilbert.


Heat 9 could be a very informative contest with a few exciting prospects on show. These include Born To Perform, Piccadilly Attic and Ravenswood Elsie. Much will depend on which of the trio can turn in front but slight preference is for Born To Perform who has the best of the draw on the fence.