Michael Freedman’s move to Hong Kong has led to Edward O’Rourke scanning for his own talent at the Karaka sales in New Zealand this week.
The Irishman had anticipated working for another trainer once Freedman relocated earlier this year but, at the urgings of his former employer, O’Rourke secured his training licence in April.
O’Rourke had already served a lengthy apprenticeship after arrived in Sydney in 2011 with a jumps background and soon focused on two-year-olds.
“It’s a tough game, jumpers, and after an average season I decided to come to Australia,” O’Rourke said.
“The industry was going from strength to strength and I thought you’d be mad not to be part of it.”
The 32-year-old worked with Anthony Cummings, John Thompson and David Hayes before joining Gai Waterhouse’s staff at Tulloch Lodge.
His stint coincided with the Golden Slipper-winning exploits of Pierro, Overreach and Vancouver.
“I learnt a lot from Gai about educating the babies and how to bring them along,” O’Rourke said.
While Waterhouse was pivotal in turning O’Rourke’s to two-year-olds, Freedman proved the catalyst for him securing his own boxes at Randwick.
“I thought I might go and work for another trainer but he pushed for me to start out on my own,” O’Rourke said.
He only had two runners last season, and heading into Canterbury on Wednesday he had had 17 starters and one victory, thanks to Takahashi at Gosford in September.
O’Rourke has 19 two-year-olds at various stages of development including Delchuzy, who has her second start on Wednesday in a Maiden Plate (1100m).
“We’re coming along slowly. You just have to patient at the moment because there’s so many young horses in work and so we have to give them time,” O’Rourke said.
Delchuzy was sixth on debut over 1100-metres at Rosehill on November 11.
O’Rourke also has this year’s Golden Slipper runner-up Frolic in his care.
Owner Tom Kelly entrusted O’Rourke with the three-year-old filly after Freedman’s departure, a gesture the Irishman appreciated.,
“Obviously I’ve been quite lucky. It’s a huge vote of confidence,” O’Rourke said.
Frolic returns to work next month after having bone chips removed from her knees.