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Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid was a king among racehorses. His front-running prowess and gritty determination made him a much-loved icon with the British public. The English racehorse's most famous moment was when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989, delighting more than 58,000 cheering spectators, who were willing him on to the finishing line.

Desert Orchid

The stunning grey racehorse - also affectionately known as Dessie - enjoyed a long and illustrious career, winning 34 races - including an unparalleled four times victory in the challenging King George VI Steeple Chase. His winning ways led to Dessie being voted the fifth best National Hunt racehorse of all time.

Born in April 1979, this magnificent racehorse showed great promise from the onset. Owner Richard Burridge and trainer David Elsworth remained at the helm throughout the racehorse's long steeplechase career, which lasted from 1983 to 1991. His first win was during the 1983/84 season in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown and his last was in 1991, when he was first past the post in the Agfa Diamond Handicap Chase – fittingly, also at Sandown.

He had four different jump jockeys: Colin Brown, Richard Dunwoody, Richard Linley and Simon Sherwood. The jockey for his one flat race was Brian Rouse.

Dessie's versatility was often lauded - especially his ability to adapt to Cheltenham's muddy ground, which was at odds with his bold jumping style. He always gave his all, no matter what the weather, the distance or the conditions. His famous win against Yahoo in the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup is the stuff of legends.

Following his thrilling one-and-a-half-length victory, Desert Orchid's jockey, Simon Sherwood, said he had never known a horse so brave. He added, "He hated every step of the way in the ground and dug as deep as he could possibly go." As Desert Orchid was unsaddled after the race, he was given a rousing three cheers by the thousands of fans surrounding the heroic horse. Later, readers of the Racing Post voted the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup the best horse race ever.

Even after retirement, Desert Orchid remained a fans' favourite and continued to make public appearances. He survived a serious bout of colic in 1992 and after recovering, he continued to raise money for charities by making personal appearances at various events. He was also invited to lead the runners' parade at the King George VI Chase at Kempton each year.

Dessie even had an official fan club for 17 years and it raised an amazing £40,000 for charity through selling merchandise such as his famous racing calendar. He had a wonderful retirement, spending winters with trainer David Elsworth and summers with the Burridge family.

On 1st October 2006, Dessie's final public appearance at the age of 27 was at the National Stud for his fan club's open day. He died on 13th November 2006 and the racing world - and the public - mourned. A statue was erected in his memory at Kempton Park Racecourse, where his ashes were laid to rest.

On 27th November 2006, the Desert Orchid Chase was launched in his memory and prior to the inaugural race, a headstone was unveiled at his grave. Dessie's finest hours in memorable races were played on a giant video screen at the racecourse and a minute's silence was held before the first race.

Dessie will be forever remembered as one of racing’s all-time greats. Today, 11 years after his death, Desert Orchid memorabilia is still a best-seller, including Royal Doulton figures, books on his life story, limited edition prints, paintings, keyrings, postcards and more.

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Whether you own a world-class racehorse or if you ride for fun, your horse deserves the best. Coruba's range of top-quality animal rubber matting products is ideal for all stables, providing extra insulation and comfort for your beloved equine friends. We also sell horse box partition rubber skirts for safer transportation. Please contact us for further details of our equine products.



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