What started out as a touching tribute to a true equine champion, the Desert Orchid Chase has become a much anticipated and fiercely competitive fixture on the National Hunt scene. Keep reading for tips to choose the next winner.
The Desert Orchid Chase is classified as a Grade 2 race and is open to horses aged four and over. It is run over a distance of two miles on a right-handed track and includes twelve gruelling fences.
location: Kempton Park Racecourse
grade: Grade 2
race type: Steeplechase
The Desert Orchid Chase is one of the youngest National Hunt Races on the United Kingdom's jump season calendar. It was inaugurated in 2006, premiering on the 27th of December, and it was established as a tribute to a true racing great, the one and only Desert Orchid.
Desert Orchid, also known as Dessie, was a true legend of the jumps. He was rated the fifth best National Hunt horse of all time by Timeform. Desert Orchid was foaled in 1979 and lived to an incredibly old age, passing away on 13th of November, 2006.
It was this outstanding gelding's death that spawned the invention of the Desert Orchid Chase. Little over a month after the legendary Desert Orchid said farewell to the world, the race in his honour ran for the first time at Kempton Park Racecourse. It replaced the Castleford Chase which was a National Hunt race that had been hosted at Kempton Park since 1989.
Since 2006, this event has proved itself favourite friendly with eight out of the past eleven events going to the favoured horse (as of 2017) .
The title of most successful horse is shared between Voy Por Ustedes (2006, 2007) and Special Tiara (2014, 2016).
In 2016, Special Tiara set the record for fastest time of 3 minutes and 45.95 seconds.
The most successful jockey is currently Barry Geraghty who won on three occasions from 2009 to 2014.
The most successful trainer is Nicky Henderson who trained three winners from 2009 to 2015.
The longest-odds winner was 2008's 16/1 shot Fiepes Shuffle.
The record for widest margin is shared by Sactuaire (2012) and Politologue (2017) who both won by 13 lengths.
This event has proven to be a popular fixture with several memorable performances in its brief history. Here are a few of the best (as of 2017) .
The first two races were momentous, not only as the kick-starters of a popular National Hunt race, but also due to Voy Por Ustedes' dominating performance as the first dual winner. In 2006 he finished five lengths ahead and claimed another solid victory in 2007 by finishing seven lengths ahead. He remained the widest-margin winner until 2012's Sactuaire who won by 13 lengths.
The 2008 race is memorable, as Fiepes Shuffle became the longest-odds winner and set a record time of 3 minutes and 53.80 seconds which remained uncontested until 2016.