The Desert Orchid Chase is a Grade 2 National Hunt steeplechase, run at Kempton Park Racecourse on the second day of their Winter Carnival. Run over a distance of 2 miles, there are twelve fences to be negotiated in total.

The race was first run in 2006 and was named after the popular-grey Desert Orchid, who died a few weeks earlier.

Desert Orchid won Kempton's most famous contest - the King George VI Chase, four times between 1986 and 1990. His ashes were scattered at the racecourse on the day of this race's inaugural running.

This new contest replaced the Castleford Chase in the National Hunt calendar as a Grade 2 chase over 2 miles, and is a key pointer to which horses will contest the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.

This Grade Two affair has attracted some top class winners in recent years including Voy Por Ustedes, Finian's Rainbow, Sire De Grugy, Sprinter Sacre, Special Tiara and Altior who all went on to take the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Desert Orchid Chase Winners

  • 2011 – Finian's Rainbow 4/11 fav (Barry Geraghty/Nicky Henderson)

  • 2012 – Sanctuaire 11/8 fav (Ruby Walsh/Paul Nicholls)

  • 2013 - Sire de Grugy 4/1 (Jamie More/Gary Moore)

  • 2014 - Special Tiara 5/1 (Barry Geraghty/Henry De Bromhead)

  • 2015 - Sprinter Sacre 8/11 fav (Nico De Boinville/Nicky Henderson)

  • 2016 - Special Tiara 8/11 fav (Noel Fehily/Henry De Bromhead)

  • 2017 – Politologue 8/15 fav (Sam Twiston-Davies/Paul Nicholls)

  • 2018 – Altior 1/8 fav (Nico De Boinville/Nicky Henderson)

  • 2019 – Bun Doran 4/1 (Jonathan Burke/Tom George)

  • 2020 – Nube Negra 20/1 (Harry Skelton/Dan Skelton)

  • Age: 8 of the last 10 winners were aged between 6 and 8. Sprinter Sacre and Special Tiara were both nine when they won in 2015/16 respectively.

  • Price: 6 of the last 10 favourites have won, 9/10 winners came from the top three in the horse racing odds.

  • Last Run: 5 of the last 10 winners won on their last run before the Desert Orchid Chase, 8/10 winners ran within the last 48 days. 4/11 winners ran in the Tingle Creek Chase (Sandown) on their last run, 3 of the 4 won, 0 placed.

  • Previous Course Form: 9/10 winners had at least one previous run at Kempton, 6/10 winners had at least one previous win at Kempton.

  • Previous Distance Form: 9/10 winners had at least seven previous runs over 15-17 furlongs, 9/10 had at least three previous wins over 15-17 furlongs.

  • Previous Chase Form: 8/10 winners had at least seven previous chase runs, 8/10 winners had at least three previous chase wins.

  • Rating: 8/10 winners were rated 156 or higher.

  • Graded Wins: 8/10 winners had at least one previous win in a Grade 1-3 race.

  • Season Form: 8/10 winners had at least one run that season, 4/10 winners had at least one win that season.

Leading Trainers

Nicky Henderson leads the way with four victories to his name in this contest, those being: Petit Robin (2009), Finian’s Rainbow (2011), Sprinter Sacre (2015) and Altior (2018).

To check out whether Nicky Henderson has any Desert Orchid Chase chances this season, please take a look at our 888Sport Nicky Henderson stable tour.

Alan King, Henry De Bromhead and Paul Nicholls all have two winners apiece.

King saddled Voy Por Ustedes to win in 2006/7, De Bromhead sent out Special Tiara in 2014/16, whilst Nicholls’ two came with Sanctuaire (2012) and Politologue (2015).

Leading Jockeys

The now retired Barry Geraghty was victorious in this race a total of three times, all for trainer Nicky Henderson. Geraghty’s winners were: Petit Robin (2009), Finian’s Rainbow (2011) and Special Tiara (2014).

Of the current crop of jockey’s, Nico De Boinville is a two-time winner of this Christmas contest, having guided both Sprinter Sacre (2015) and Altior (2018) to victory.

Desert Orchid 'Trial' Races

Potential runners at Kempton are likely to have run in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham or the Tingle Creek at Sandown with the cream of the crop likely to have appeared in those two contests.

The Tingle Creek would is the biggest race of the season for this division outside of the Festival so rather than being a "trial" for the Desert Orchid Chase, it is more the next stepping stone after Sandown.

Starting Prices

This race has been a particularly kind race for favourite backers since its conception with six of them obliging in just the last ten years alone. The favourite always figures prominently in any horse racing tips for this feature race.

The winner generally comes from the first three in the betting, which is no surprise really as the field is often a small one with an average of six runners.

Nube Negra (20/1) became a rare blip in the stats/trends last season when the Dan Skelton-trained runner returned the joint-outsider of six.

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*


FIRST PUBLISHED: 22nd December 2021

Steven is a sports and horse racing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 30 renewals of the Grand National.