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Desert Orchid shattered prize money records for National Hunt racing, winning £542,000 in first prize money, but will be remembered for much longer for the manner of his racing and as a sporting legend.
The grey's record-breaking four wins in the King George VI Chase at Kempton were embellished by victories in the Whitbread Gold Cup, the Irish Grand National and most memorably in the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Almost white towards the end of his career, Desert Orchid became the first horse known to have a official fan club and his retirement in December, 1991, a few days before his 13th birthday, marked the end of an era for many National Hunt supporters.
His career record shows seven wins as a hurdler, including the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in 1984, and 27 over fences, including five at Wincanton, and he was placed over jumps a further 20 times out of a total of 71 starts.
Desert Orchid won a record four successive National Hunt Horse of the Year Awards and had the Derby winner Nashwan in second place when honoured as Champion Overall Horse of the Year in 1989.
After winning the Racing Post Handicap Chase at Kempton in February, 1990 under 12st 3lb, Timeform rated Desert Orchid's eight-length victory the best over jumps since the days of Arkle.
Timeform concluded:"Desert Orchid was an exceptional racehorse, thoroughly meriting the much overused description great.
"He became a symbol of so much that is good about National Hunt racing. He was tough, versatile, courageous and durable, and a joy to watch, and no horse has ever more richly deserved a place among the immortals of the Turf."
Desert Orchid is now 16 years old. The famous grey makes plenty of public appearances and recently went hunting.
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