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First Group winner on the level for O'Rourke family

First Group winner on the level for O'Rourke family

The O’Rourke family name is one that will be familiar to point-to-point racegoers across the country, with Jimmy one of the leading riders on the circuit, whilst father Pat is a respected handler who enjoyed success this season.

Away from the point-to-point fields, the family were certainly in high spirits on Thursday evening when True Valour became the first horse to have been bred at their Belmont Stud operation to win a Group race. 

Victory for the Qatar Racing-owned son of Kodiac in the Group 3 Ballychorus Stakes at Leopardstown, may well have gained headlines for his trainer Johnny Murtagh, owing to the Kildare training saddling a treble on the evening at the Dublin course, however it was also a big moment for the winning Wexford-based breeder as he explained.
“It’s great, we were all delighted. That is our first Group winner, so it’s brilliant!
“I’ve been breeding horses all my life really, but we only started breeding flat horses about eight or nine years ago and we have had a good bit of luck at it.
“We have between 18 and 20 broodmares here the whole time. There are a couple of national hunt mares and the rest are all for the flat.
“We moved here to Belmont about five years ago and it’s going well. I think it was nine individual winners that we had last year – all two and three-year-old’s.”
An April foal, True Valour was described by O’Rourke as “a lovely simple foal, very straight forward,” that was sold by him for 19,000 GNS at the December foal sale in Newmarket. 
The joys of breeding are such that the son of Kodiac was then sold to Qatar Racing’s David Redvers for the larger €100,000 sum at the breeze-up sale in Goresbridge just six-months later.
However, the Belmont team were rewarded, as Sutton Venny, the five-time winning dam of True Valour, was later also sold to Redvers, topping the February sale at 80,000 GNS.
“I had bred two out of her and then we sold her at the February sale in Tattersalls over in Newmarket three years ago. She came up for sale again this year and made 240,000gns in the December sale. I think Coolmore have her now.”
It is a family run operation at Belmont Stud, just a stones throw from Wexford Racecourse, with Pat’s wife Phyllis, and children Jimmy, Pamela and Katherine all involved. Horses clearly run through their blood, with his eldest son Edward currently embarking on a successful training career down under in Australia.
Buoyed by that initial group victory for their operation, hopes are high of further success. The Sir Prancealot two-year-old, Cococabala, has won two of his three starts this season for Richard Spencer and is now set to be stepped-up into Group company in the near future, whilst the O’Rourke family will offer their next set of future winners, with 17 yearlings set to be offered at the sales later in the year.
Alongside that breeding business, point-to-points continue to play a big role within the family. 
Ten winners for Jimmy this season, took him past the 50-winner career mark between the flags, one of which was aboard his father’s Illuminated Beauty.

She won her maiden at Oldcastle last month before being sold to Aiden Murphy for £55,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham May Sale, in what was a low-key campaign for O’Rourke senior. 
“We only managed to run the two horses this season. Oscar’s Delight is a schoolmaster and he finished placed and then Illuminated Beauty won at Oldcastle.
“There would be four or five horses to run for point-to-points at home. We have a couple of nice four-year-old’s that we didn’t get to run in the spring that will be aimed at the autumn.”
True Valour will ensure that there is a lot to look forward to over the coming months for the O’Rourke clan ahead of the recommencement of point-to-point action, as he has a big date ahead of him at the Longines Irish Champions Weekend in mid-September, where he will continue to fly the flag for the Belmont team.

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