Anorak News | The Desert Orchid Hunters

The Desert Orchid Hunters

by | 14th, November 2006

IN between stories of how super casinos will do for us all and gambling addiction is waiting to decimate the country like a plague of winged Rogarians, comes some sad news.

Lower your nosebag, throw a tea towel over the revolving kebab and know that a horse is dead. And not just any horse but a light grey horse called Desert Orchid.

“Dessie takes that final fence”, says the Mail’s front page, looking on as the “Great British icon”, “a flawed genius, and that’s why we loved you”, vaults the pearly gates.

Inside the paper, pages 2 and 3 are given over to Peter Oborne saluting this “sporting hero”.

He compares Dessie to the likes of cricketer Don Bradman, whose brilliance “is so inevitable that it becomes boring”.

Dessie didn’t have that. He was unpredictable. And unlike the legendary Australian cricketer, Dessie was a dumb animal who ran around in circles with a little man with a whip in his hand sat on his back. (Rumours about Bradman and that Adelaide club remain unsubstantiated.)

The Mail gives over an entire page to a picture of Dessie, looking over the gate of his plush stable complex, his tongue tasting the air for victory and carrots.

And there he is again on the front of the Sun. “Dessie 1979-2006” says the horseshow wrapped around the horse’s neck. And inside there’s a tribute.

In “WHAT A GREY DAY”, Claude Duval – “DESSIE’S PAL” – remembers the good times, the hard times, the loves, the losses, the laughter and the tears.

Dessie’s trainer David Elsworth, tells us: “He did his dying in the same individual way he did his living – with dignity and no fuss. It was time to go.”

And owner Richard Burridge tells us: “He enjoyed life to the end. We were all dreading putting him down but he made the decision for himself. He’s always been in charge of his own life.”

Indeed. And as Dessie picked up the syringe full of the poison that would send him to that great paddock in the sky, tapping it with his hoof, pulling the tourniquet tight and pricking his aged flesh with the deadly fluid, we salute him.

As does the Mirror, which, beneath a front-page picture of Dessie, says “FAREWELL LAD”.

We may never see your like again – not in the world of sport. Although that lump of meat on spit does look familiar…

Posted: 14th, November 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink