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1 Mar 2021

Desert Orchid Gold Cup Winner 1989

The Cheltenham Festival. What does it mean to you? Which race do you love to anticipate, bet & watch? If you are going to bet, then I found this long list of offers available for this year.   

In truth, there are so many horses who have made this iconic race meeting the pinnacle of their career. Name a National Hunt favourite - I bet it won at Prestbury Park. 

As the saying goes: ''Time flies.'' But let's face it, for most readers who placed a winning bet on this special day it's as fresh as yesterday. 

Even after so many years, I wonder what odds you would give when asking this question.

Name a grey horse? 

Desert Orchid. 

Time may fly but nostalgia lives long in the heart and mind. Think back to the days of Desert Orchid. In 1989 ''Dessie'' achieved the ultimate goal when winning the Gold Cup to the voice of a legend in his own right, Sir Peter O'Sullivan. 

His most famous words:

''Desert Orchid is beginning to get up...''

To the cheers of a jubilant crowd, 'Dessie' done it!

One quote from a happy punter exemplified the feeling of a national: 

''It sent shivers down my spine. It was like watching England win the World Cup. I wanted to streak up the road I was so delirious''

What a day.

Do you remember these 3 quotes?

1) After winning the 1989 Gold Cup, jockey, Simon Sherwood said: 

"I've never known a horse so brave. He hated every step of the way in the ground and dug as deep as he could possibly go".  

2) Racing Post:

''The race has been voted the best horse race ever by readers.''

3) Carrying Weight:

''No horse since Desert Orchid has repeatedly and successfully conceded weight to his rivals at the highest level.''

Desert Orchid was born 11th April 1979 in Goadby, Leicestershire. This grey was sired by Grey Desire out of a dam called Flower Child. He was bred by James Burridge who was a part owner with Midge Burridge, Richard Burridge & Simon Bullimore. He was trained by David Elsworth racing seventy times, winning thirty-four, eleven seconds and placed third on eight occasions. His most noted victories included the King George VI Chase four times (1986, 1988, 1989, 1990), Cheltenham Gold Cup (1989) & Irish Grand National (1990). He achieved total prize money of £654,066.

He retired in December 1991. Desert Orchid had his own fan club raising over £40,000 for charities selling ''Dessie'' merchandise and racing calendars.     

Desert Orchid died on 13th November 2006. He was aged 27. His ashes were buried at his beloved Kempton Park Racecourse near his statue.