On this day in 2006: Gold Cup winning Desert Orchid dies at the age of 27

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Desert Orchid, one of the most successful steeplechasers of all time, died at the age of 27 on this day in 2006.

The dashing grey achieved greatness within the National Hunt arena and was much-loved by racing enthusiasts for his iron will and extreme adaptability.

Affectionately known as ‘Dessie’, he won 34 races in total, including the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup and seven at his beloved Kempton Park, where four victories in the King George VI Steeple Chase underlined his immense talent.

Following his retirement in 1991, he remained popular with fans, making public appearances at charity events.

In a statement, his former trainer David Elsworth said: “Desert Orchid died peacefully in his stable at 6.05 this morning. There was no stress, he departed from this world with dignity and no fuss.

“He did his dying in the same individual way that he did his living. It was time to go.

“Dessie had not been well for the past week and was losing his co-ordination. He was 27 years old and we had been involved with this wonderful horse for
a quarter of a century both in his racing days and retirement.”

Desert Orchid’s ashes were buried at his stomping ground of Kempton, where a statue was also erected.

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