Born in Ireland, Garrett O’Rourke grew up with National Hunt racing before moving to United States in 1986. O’Rourke is the American manager for Juddmonte where he’s been involved with the likes of Empire Maker, Wandesta and other superstars.
First Cheltenham memory?
I think I remember Arkle (maybe it was just a replay) but The Dickler (Ron Barry) and Pendil (Richard Pitman) in the Gold Cup is memorable as it was the first time we had a color TV and I can still see it so clearly in my memory.
If you could have trained/ridden/owned one Cheltenham horse in history…who and why?
Dawn Run – she was big enough to hold my weight and I fancied I could ride as well as Charmaine Hill and Tony Mullins (OK, maybe not Jonjo).
Why is Cheltenham so special?
The best of the best in every division, the Irish raiders, the established superstars going head to head, the “next Arkle,” the “C’mon McCoy!!” as they roll down the hill, standing off at the wing at the second-to-last, uprooting the last then storming up the hill to win – then the Irish roar as the winner is led in!
What’s your biggest concern/fear regarding Cheltenham?
I don’t have any – they run huge fields yet have good safety records now. The extra day did dilute the competition but I understood the value of doing it. And it is booming when racing is losing popularity elsewhere.
Name one Juddmonte horse who could have run well at the Festival.
Wandesta won an Eclipse Award but was built like a chaser with size, bone and a noble head. Champion Chase!
Best race/moment you’ve experienced there.
Dawn Run in the Gold Cup.
Worst race/moment you’ve experienced there.
Better forgotten …
Words of advice for first-time Cheltenham goer.
Withdraw more money.
Nap of the meet.
Longshot of the meet.
The Giant Bolster.