The most famous grey horse in racing history was born in 1979, the year after Red Rum’s retirement, and, in a symbolic passing of the torch, Desert Orchid became one of the most popular racehorses of the 1980’s, before retiring in 1991. Dessie (as he was affectionately called) racked up a sensational win record, including four wins in the King George VI Chase. His most famous win, however, came in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989.
The Greatest Race Of All Time
Starting out as the 5/2 favourite, Desert Orchid was ten years old at that time and had failed to win in five previous Gold Cup races. Dessie was in great form heading into Cheltenham, but it looked like a race win had eluded him when he was two fences from home. In second place, and facing stiff competition, Desert Orchid displayed that well-known resilience to not only keep the rest of the racers behind him, but also take the victory to rapturous celebrations from the crowd in attendance. Desert Orchid retired in 1991 and died in 2006 aged 27.