Desert Orchid was one of the most revered National Hunt horses of all-time. In a career that spanned 70 starts, Desert Orchid achieved a record of 34-11-8. His win record included the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup and four King George VI Chase titles.
Trained by Englishman David Elsworth, Desert Orchid’s racing career lasted seven seasons, more than many of his racing contemporaries. Although Elsworth trained a number of beloved horses, no racer caught the attention of English fans quite like Desert Orchid. His accumulation of wins added to an attacking running style made the horse a favourite on race days.
In 1983, Desert Orchid began collecting wins with jockey Colin Brown. The duo would race together 42 times and 17 of those events would finish in a win for the duo. During his career, Desert Orchid would be ridden by four other jockeys and many of them achieved success on the horse’s back.
In 1991, as Desert Orchid’s better race days were behind him, the grey achieved one last win at the Diamond Chase at Sandown. Ten months later, Desert Orchid was retired following a devastating fall at Kempton. Despite the loss, Kempton had proved to be the setting of some of Desert Orchid’s greatest triumphs. Kempton held such happy racing memories that every year, Desert Orchid was on hand to lead the parade of runners for the King George VI Race following his retirement.
In November 2006, not long after celebrating his 27th birthday, Desert Orchid died at Egerton House Stables. The beloved horse’s ashes were buried at his favourite race track, Kempton Park Racecourse, next to his statue.