Desert Orchid Chase

The Desert Orchid Chase is a Grade 2 steeplechase run over 2 miles at Kempton Park on day two of the Labrokes Christmas Festival, which is staged annually on December 26 and December 27. Open to horses aged four years and upwards, the race was inaugurated in 2006 and is named after Desert Orchid, a legendary racehorse who died in November that year at the age of 27.

Trained by David Elsworth, Desert Orchid won a total of 34 races, including the traditional Boxing Day highlight at Kempton, the King George VI Chase, four times in five years between 1986 and 1990. A life-sized bronze statue of the popular grey was unveiled at the Sunbury-on-Thames track in 1991 and, following his death, his ashes were buried nearby. Over three decades after he ran his last race, Desert Orchid remains the sixth highest-rated steeplechaser of the Timeform era, which began in the early Sixties, as far as National Hunt racing is concerned.

In its relatively short history, the Desert Orchid Chase has thrown up several subsequent winners of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival the following March. Voy Por Ustedes, Finian’s Rainbow, Sire De Grugy, Sprinter Sacre and Altior all completed the double in the same season.

The 2022 winner of the Desert Orchid Chase, Editeur Du Gite, benefitted from the fifth fence fall of odds-on favourite Edwardstown when successful at Kempton, but accounted for that rival again, albeit by just a head, in the rescheduled Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham a month later. The Clarence House field also included the reigning champion chaser, Energumene, who ruined his chance with a final-fence blunder, but may not have won in any case; at the time of writing, Editeur Du Gite is a top-priced 6/1 (from 25/1) for the 2023 Queen Mother Champion Chase.