Mythical match-ups of great horses from different generations has always been a popular conversation amongst racing fans. One of the most common debates is who was the better horse out of Desert Orchid and Red Rum.
It would be hard to argue against Red Rum being the greatest horse to compete in the Grand National. He is the only horse to have won the iconic stayers race three times in 1973, 1974 and 1977. In fact, since the horse won for the third time no horse has won it twice.
Unfortunately for Red Rum, he did not transfer such exploits into other races. He did manage to triumph in the Scottish Grand National in 1974 but failed to be victorious in a variety of other top races including the Hennessy Gold Cup. He was however a sublime jumper and did not fall in 100 races.
The year after Red Rum retired Desert Orchid was born. The most famous grey horse in racing history dominated the National Hunt headlines in the 1980’s and was successful at the top level for a longer period than Red Rum. The horse won the King George four times, the Gainsborough Chase three times the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Irish Grand National and the Racing Post Chase.
When you compare their career records Red Rum was successful in 24 of his 100 career runs whilst Desert Orchid won 34 in just 70 runs. Desert Orchid also earnt over four times the amount in earnings compared to Red Rum.
Whilst Red Rum is more famous to the wider public, merely because his exploits were in the most famous race of all, Desert Orchid has a more prolific resume by some distance.