Desert Orchid sadly passed away peacefully aged 27 today at David Elsworth's Egerton House stables in Newmarket.
Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham's Managing Director, said today: "Desert Orchid competed at eight consecutive Festivals from 1982 to 1991. After failing to make the frame in two Champion Hurdles, he never finished out of the first three in six Festivals over fences. These included a third place in the 'Arkle', third and then second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase before his emotional victory in the 1989 Gold Cup. He returned to twice finish third in the Gold Cup.
"Those statistics would be impressive by themselves and speak volumes for his soundness and the skill with which he was campaigned by David Elsworth, but it was the manner in which he competed that captured the heart of a racing generation. Perpetually successful around the 'park' courses at Ascot, Kempton and Sandown, his army of supporters were denied celebrations year after year at Cheltenham until he defied the most dreadful weather and the ambitions of Yahoo to claim Gold Cup glory.
"After his retirement, Dessie returned every year to lead out the Gold Cup runners and was here this March to be enjoyed by his adoring public, 17 years on from that incredible day. Over 23 years since his first appearance, he has been responsible for attracting tens of thousands to the sport and the television audiences of his races have never been matched.
"Racing was blessed by such an easily recognised hero who battled to the line, often achieving victory in a dramatic last stride. We were further blessed that he provided a travelling recruitment campaign with his racecourse and other public appearances to meet a wider audience. He is remembered at Cheltenham by the name of a grandstand in the Best Mate enclosure, alongside Dawn Run and in a hologram in the Hall of Fame.
"Desert Orchid has left the sport which is far stronger than the one he joined, due much to his own achievements and the involvement he demanded of his audience."
KING'S GLEN HOPING TO FOLLOW IN BOBBYJO'S FOOTSTEPS - MY WAY DE SOLZEN MAY HEAD KING'S STRONG NORTH WEST MASTERS TEAM
LATEST GOING FOR HAYDOCK AND AINTREE
Trainer Tommy Carberry is hoping to see the colours made famous by his Grand National winner Bobbyjo carried once more to victory over the big Aintree fences aboard King's Glen, who is set to take his chance in either the £100,000 totesport.com Becher Chase (2.35pm) or the £60,000 totepool Grand Sefton Chase (1.30pm) at Aintree on Sunday, November 19.
The three and a quarter mile totesport.com Becher Chase, the feature event at Aintree on day two of the North West Masters, is the preferred option for the County Meath trainer who saddled Bobbyjo to success for owner Bobby Burke in the 1999 John Smith's Grand National.
Carberry revealed today: "It's quite likely that King's Glen will go to the totesport.com Becher Chase but he is also in the totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase, so I'll have to see what the weights are when they come out tomorrow.
"I'll see how the horse is through the week and what the ground is likely to be on Saturday before making my mind up. He likes some cut in the ground."
King's Glen unseated Philip Carberry in the John Smith's Topham Chase on his only previous attempt over the famous Grand National fences at Aintree in April. The 10-year-old has had two starts this season in handicap hurdles at Galway (October 30), and Naas (November 11), finishing 11 lengths ninth of 16 over an inadequate two miles on the latter occasion.
Carberry commented: "He hit the ditch on the way down to Bechers' and unseated last season but before that he was going well. We're hopeful that we can go back to Aintree in the spring with him.
"We ran him over hurdles to sharpen him up. It's just been a case of trying to get him fit enough to go to the totesport.com Becher Chase."
The totesport.com Becher Chase has attracted 30 entries including the Jonjo O'Neill-trained 2003 Becher Chase winner and 2004 John Smith's Grand National runner-up Clan Royal, the Paul Nicholls-trained Eurotrek, 2005 Scottish Grand National winner Joe's Edge, and this year's John smith's Grand National fourth Nil Desperandum, as well as a seven-strong Irish-trained contingent including Jack High, Dun Doire and Pearly Jack.
The North West Masters, inaugurated in 2005, is an innovative concept that sees the North West's two major racetracks - Haydock Park and Aintree - join forces to stage a weekend of fantastic racing.
Haydock Park stages a top-quality six-race card on Saturday, November 18 - day one of the two-day North West Masters, which continues at Aintree with six superb races on Sunday, November 19.
Saturday's card at Haydock features the £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase (1.50pm) and the £100,000 Betfair Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm) over two miles, seven and a half furlongs.
The Alan King-trained Halcon Genelardais, winner of the Grade Two totepool Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby last term is engaged in both contests and the trainer is at this stage favouring the highly-competitive hurdle, which has 36 entries.
King revealed today: "My gut feeling is that Halcon Genelardais will go in the Betfair Handicap Hurdle rather than the Betfair Chase. There are so few options at the moment, so the idea is to give him a run there before we go chasing again with him. He had a great summer and I think he's improved so I'm very happy with him."
The Betfair Handicap Hurdle saw subsequent Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle victor My Way De Solzen, trained by King, finish second to the Sue Smith-trained St Matthew and this year could see the unbeaten Black Jack Ketchum go one better by winning the £100,000 contest before securing his ultimate goal of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
King is also looking to run his exciting pair Self Respect and Blazing Bailey, who are likely to take their chances in the Listed Pontin's Holidays Novices' Hurdle (1.20pm) and J W Lees Handicap Hurdle (2.50pm) at Haydock on Saturday, while My Way De Solzen could make his much-anticipated chasing bow at Aintree on Sunday in the Amberleigh House Novices' Chase (3.10pm) over two miles.
King reported: "My Way De Solzen is well and schooled this morning over fences. He'll school twice more this week. He'll only just be ready for Sunday so it depends on how he schools and whether they get a lot of rain. We want soft ground for him. I'd like to run him there so we'll see."
My Way De Solzen is one of 13 entries for the contest, which also includes the Howard Johnson-trained Lennon, winner of the intercasino.co.uk Molyneux Novices' Chase at Aintree in October, Rasharrow, L'Antartique, Blu Teen, and Bob Hall.
King continued: "Self Respect's form was given a good boost with Moon Over Miami - who he beat at Kempton - winning at Cheltenham on Friday. He schooled this morning and he'll work midweek. He's very likely to run in the Pontin's Holidays Newton Novices' Hurdle.
"I want to go up in trip with Blazing Bailey but with a lack of options we might just give him a run over two miles in the J W Lees Hurdle to get him started. I'm sure he's going to want two and a half miles-plus in time but it might be the ideal race to get a run into him.
"I think the North West Masters is wonderful with the amount of prize money on offer and I'll support it as much as possible. I'm looking forward to a good weekend."
The Betfair Chase is the first leg of the ground-breaking Betfair Million, which offers a generous £1 million bonus to any horse that wins three of the season's most prestigious Grade One three-mile chases - the Betfair Chase followed by either the Stan James King George VI Chase at Kempton or the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period and then adds the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Last year's inaugural running of the Betfair Chase lived up to its star billing as the Robert Alner-trained Kingscliff held Irish star Beef Or Salmon by a length and a half, with 2005 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King in third, and this year's renewal should produce another superb spectacle with a top-class 14-strong entry, including two from Ireland and a trio from France.
The Gallic contingent is headed by the Arnaud Chaille-Chaille trained Grade One winner Mid Dancer, who pleased connections when runner-up to Monet's Garden at Carlisle on October 29, as well as stablemate Super Bowl, and the Francois Doumen-trained totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth L'Ami.
Others that could feature in the fantastic renewal include last year's victor Kingscliff, trained by Robert Alner, alongside the Paul Nicholls-trained Grade One Tingle Creek Chase winner Kauto Star who showed his well-being with an easy success in the Grade Two bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase at Aintree on October 22.
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained Iris's Gift, winner of the Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle in 2004, could take his chance, as could last season's Stan James King George VI Chase runner-up Monkerhostin, Henrietta Knight's exciting young chaser Racing Demon, Take The Stand and Bewleys Berry.
Latest HAYDOCK going report: GOOD/GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES
Latest AINTREE going report: GOOD/GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES on Grand National course. GOOD on Mildmay and hurdles courses.
Tickets are available from both Haydock and Aintree -
Tickets are still available for both racedays.
01942 402 624 (Haydock)
0151 522 2929 (Aintree)
Online booking is also available at www.aintree.co.uk and www.haydock-park.co.uk
Accommodation booking is available on 0845 601 1125
REGION HOPING FOR FURTHER SUCCESS
The 2005 North West Masters attracted nearly 20,000 visitors into the region with research showing that over £1.7million was spent by racegoers attending the meeting. Saturday's racing at Haydock Park saw over 12,000 people packed into its stands - the biggest jumping attendance for over 20 years - with Aintree attracting over 7,000 visitors, despite only passing a midday inspection.
Martin King, Director of Tourism at The Mersey Partnership, said: "The North West Masters event last year proved a resounding success and I'm confident that this year's will prove to be even bigger and better. I see the Masters as becoming another major fixture in Merseyside's incredible calendar of festivals and events."
After the racing at Haydock on the Saturday, the first day will be celebrated with a FREE star studded music event in conjunction with Wish FM, featuring a performance by X-Factor star Andy Abraham, in Victoria Square, St. Helens town centre which will coincide with the town's spectacular Christmas lights switch-on.
Bus services link the racecourse directly to St. Helens town centre courtesy of Mersey Travel. Further information is also available by going to www.visitliverpool.com/northwestmasters
THE 2006 CARTIER RACING AWARDS APPROACH
The 2006 Cartier Racing Awards, European racing's equivalent of the Oscars, will be unveiled in tremendous style on the evening of Wednesday, November 15, at the Four Seasons Hotel in London, England.
The awards, recognised as the most prestigious within European horseracing, will honour the best horses of an exceptional Flat season, as well as a man (men) or woman (women) who has (have) made an outstanding contribution to the sport. This is the 16th year of the Cartier Racing Awards.
The eight horse awards are decided by a tried and tested combination of points achieved in Pattern races, the views of racing journalists on Cartier's Racing Panel, and votes from readers of Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph. The Pattern races count towards 40 per cent of the total, with the Cartier Racing Panel's deliberations also having a 40 per cent share and the votes of the newspaper readers making up the final 20 per cent.
The horse categories are Cartier Horse Of The Year, Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt, Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly, Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt, Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly, Cartier Stayer, Cartier Sprinter and Cartier Older Horse.
Last year's ceremony before an invited audience of 280 saw Cartier Racing Awards won by George Washington, Hurricane Run, Divine Proportions, Westerner and Azamour among others.
The Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit is for the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 18-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.
The list of past winners of the Daily Telegraph Award of Merit is as follows; Henry Cecil, David & Patricia Thompson, Lord Oaksey, Prince Khalid Abdullah , John Magnier, His Highness The Aga Khan, Peter Walwyn, the Head Family, Sir Peter O'Sullevan, Frankie Dettori, John Dunlop, the Marquess of Hartington, Francois Boutin, Lester Piggott and Henri Chalhoub.
The 2006 Cartier Jury includes Charlie Brooks, Alan Byrne, Mick Channon, Luca Cumani, the Earl of Derby, Mike Dillon, Douglas Erskine-Crum, Christopher Foster, Philip Freedman, Lord Grimthorpe, Peter Jones, Simon Marsh, Jim McGrath, Peter O'Sullevan, Anthony Penfold, Brough Scott, Sir David Sieff and Howard Wright.
The Cartier Racing Awards were established in 1991 to recognise excellence in the racehorse.