The 39-year-old, who starts his new job on October 1, has been the American representative of James Wigan’s London Thoroughbred Services for just over three years.
The 500-acre National Stud used to come under the jurisdiction of Britain’s Levy Board and was bailed out financially by that government-appointed organization a few times over the years. But in April this year the stud was transferred to the British Jockey Club which already owned the land the stud operates from.
The National Stud is a strange hybrid, with accommodation for eight stallions and 200 mare which means it offers a comprehensive range of stud services, plus having a strong educational and training side as well as being a visitor attraction and offering function rooms for business or social events.
There are currently six stallions -- Bahamian Bounty, Cockney Rebel, Pastoral Pursuits; Phoenix Reach, Silver Patriarch and Val Royal -- but in the past the stud has had problems finding potential stallions who would provide a commercial return. The stud was said by the government to have made a loss for the last six years.
As part of the transfer to the Jockey Club, the Levy Board converted its existing loan and overdraft to the stud of £1,250,000 to a grant in return for the Jockey Club guaranteeing to continue to provide the educational and training facilities for at least the next five years.
O’Rourke, who was general manager of Wimbledon Farm in Lexington for seven years, worked at Coolmore in Ireland before moving to America. One of his brothers Liam is stud director of Sheikh Mohammed’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, England, while another is Garrett, manager of Khalid Abdulla’s Juddmonte Farms in Lexington.
He takes over from David Somers who came to the National Stud as general manager in January , 2007 before being made stud director and leaves in late August. Somers is returning to Eliza Park Stud in Australia.
Christopher Spence, chairman of the National Stud, said: "We are delighted that Brian will be joining us. His practical experience of all aspects of horse and farm management combined with his communication skills and knowledge of the industry mean that he is ideally qualified for the role of taking the National Stud forward.
"While it is still relatively early days for the stud following the transfer from the government to the Jockey Club, an integral part of his role will be reaffirming the standing of the National Stud with the rest of the British Thoroughbred breeding industry."
O’Rourke commented: "While I have greatly enjoyed my stay in Kentucky, I jumped at the opportunity to return to Europe to manage the National Stud.
"I am very much looking forward to managing the stud’s services to the breeding industry and overseeing the role of offering training courses for stud staff and the provision of public access, activities which make the stud unique in Britain. It is a challenging and exciting opportunity."