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Owner Richard Burridge
"He is the most terrible show-off"
 real 14k

George Enner
"He was such a battling horse"
 real 14k

banner Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 14:34 GMT
Dessie's day of destiny
Desert Orchid makes a return appearance at Cheltenham
Desert Orchid returns to Cheltenham last year
"When Grey Turned to Gold" Yes Yes Yes, Five Live 909 and 693 AM, Thursday 18 January 2105-2130 GMT

Desert Orchid had already earned the title of "the nation's favourite grey" when his day of destiny finally arrived.

Despite being favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup of 1989, as he lined up for the race it seemed the odds were stacked against him.

Pundits said he wouldn't cope with the testing ground and that even the left-handed course itself would be a problem.

Dessie is ridden back to the winner's enclosure in 1989
Dessie is ridden back to the winner's enclosure in 1989
Featuring contributions from Desert Orchid's trainer David Elsworth, stable lass Janice Coyle, his jockey Simon Sherwood and fellow jockey Tom Morgan, this programme remembers the race, and the horse.

Journalist and author, Jonathan Powell, wrote a book about Desert Orchid and speaks to John Rawling about the fame the beautiful grey enjoyed.

He explained: "His greatest achievement was he was the nation's greatest horse.


"That's not about ability, it is something which goes much deeper than that.

"He had a huge influence on a whole generation of racegoers."

Racing journalist George Enner was among those who backed another horse in the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Great horses have a sense of their own importance
  Owner Richard Burridge
He remembers: "I had backed Yahoo to win what for me would have been a large amount of money.

"I mean Yahoo loved the slop and I was really quite confident.

"At the second last I was thinking "well this is it, paradise next stop, come on my boy we have cracked this my son!".

"I got very excited but Desert Orchid just would not give up, he was such a battling horse."

Dessie was owned by the Burridge family, and Richard Burridge said: "A lot of people have said, and Arkle certainly had it, that great horses have a sense of their own importance.

"And he is the most terrible show-off.

"I think he thought racing assumed going around a racecourse, have a bit of a lark and jump a few fences, completely ignoring any other horses in the race, and then you go and get applauded.

"I think that's what he thought the whole thing was about."

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Jonathan Powell
On Desert Orchid
See also:

21 Dec 00 |  Other Sports
Dessie going strong at 21
16 Jan 01 |  Wales
Shock Gold Cup-winner dies
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