Desert Orchid lived for a 27 sparkling years before passing on, leaving a story that would make the core of any Hollywood blockbuster. Most people just called him Dessie, and he was seen as a fond celebration of the steeple chasing culture. His real sweet spot was National Hunt racing, and fans loved to see his straight runs, his ability to switch from one position to the next as well as his aggression to approach the homestretch. His versatility is easily seen in the way he managed to work with different jockeys as opposed to most horses that got stressed out when jockeys were switched. In the course of his career, he worked with Simon Sherwood, Richard Linley, Colin Brown, and Richard Dunwoody. Brian Rouse rode him just once.
Starting out at novice hurdles, Dessie found things a little tougher than anticipated. His first 42 races, all under Colin Brown, produced 17 victories but the run ended in a massive fall at the tracks. He took some time to capture his form, which explains why his minders had to find for him a career as a steeplechaser. Most people will remember the Victor Chandler Handicap Chase(1989), where Orchid was headed by a rival but recovered to win by some stretch. In the same year, in the most extreme of conditions, he romped to victory at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in front of a crowd of 58000 strong who cheered proudly and surrounded him as soon as the race was called. He has a timeform rating of 187, which places him within the list of top horses of all time in the sport.
Desert orchid managed 34 victories out of the 70 times he stepped up to the track, which is an incredible stat by any measure. By the time he retired, he had accumulated £654,066 in prize money.