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Desert Orchid - 1986 King George - Kempton

Desert Orchid: top-class chaser was at his best around Kempton

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Kempton plans 'a terrible idea' says Dessie's owner

THE owner of Desert Orchid said on Wednesday that he was glad there was opposition to the proposed closure of Kempton Park, a plan he labelled "a terrible idea".

Richard Burridge said the career of his iconic grey, who won the King George VI Chase four times, would have been very different if the race had not been run at Kempton, which is a "unique and irreplaceable" course.

"It has always struck me as a unique racecourse because it rewards brilliance, rather than being about stamina or punishing mistakes," he said.

"Sandown and Ascot are wonderful courses but Kempton, in terms of London, seemed to make up the third part and you can't replace Kempton with either Sandown or Ascot because they are completely different."

Terrible idea

Kempton's owners The Jockey Club have announced plans to shut the course and redevelop the site for housing, which would help fund a new all-weather track in Newmarket and major investment at Sandown.

Burridge added: "Selling Kempton to build an all-weather track in Newmarket doesn't seem a reasonable swap on any basis, although it's good for the professionals at Newmarket. I am not against change but if you sell Kempton you had better be clear you are getting something very major in return because you are losing something invaluable and irreplaceable.

"I am glad there is opposition to it because we certainly had some great times there and hope to continue to do so. It doesn't sound to me like a done deal. It just sounds like a terrible idea."

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