Desert Orchid

Foaled: 11 April 1979
Sire: Grey Mirage
Dam: Flower Child

Trainer: David Elsworth
Owner: Richard Burridge
Breeder: James Burridge

Known as ‘Dessie,’ he was loved for his front-running style of racing, resilience and ability to win over a variety of distances on varying ground.

He ran 71 times, winning on 34 occasions, with 21 placed efforts.

His wins ranged in distance from 2m to 3m5f and he earned over £650,000 in prize money.

Colin Brown partnered Dessie in 42 of his races, winning aboard him on 17 occasions.

He was also ridden by Simon Sherwood, Graham Bradley, Richard Linley and Richard Dunwoody.

Sherwood rode Dessie to his most famous victory of all, the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The conditions of the race were completely against him; a left-handed track on heavy going, which hindered his bold, attacking way of jumping.

Nonetheless, he outbattled Yahoo up the hill to win by 1½ lengths. In 2005, Racing Post readers voted it the greatest race of all time.

Dessie enjoyed many successes at Sandown and Kempton.

At Sandown, he won the 1988 Whitbread Gold Cup over 3m5f, before returning later the same year to win the 2m Tingle Creek.

He won Kempton’s flagship race, the King George, four times – 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990 – but fell when attempting to win the race for a fifth time in 1991. It would be his last race before retiring.

Dessie made many public appearances during his retirement, raising thousands of pounds for charity.

Lester Piggott once rode him during a parade at Wincanton.

The Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase was named in his honour and is run on 27 December at Kempton. The 2018 renewal was won by Altior.

Dessie died aged 27 on 13 November 2006 and his ashes were buried close to his memorial statue, overlooking the parade ring at Kempton.

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