Huntingdon racecourse is a horse racing track located in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England. It is a thoroughbred track, well known for hosting National Hunt races. The racecourse is owned and managed by the Jockey Club Racecourses. It has been voted for a number of times as the best small racecourse in East Anglia and the South Midlands. Being located in a strategic place near where the A1 and A14 converge, the racecourse is convenient to many people, attracting huge crowds of people to its race meetings. It hosts a total of 17 fixtures each year, over a period of nine months. The most anticipated day in Huntingdon’s calendar is the Traditional Boxing Day meeting, which usually attracts thousands of people each year.

The racecourse has excellent hospitality facilities, making the stay of its visitors comfortable. The Peterborough restaurant is well known for its excellent dining services. Huntingdon provides free entertainment for children during Bank Holiday meetings that take place every Sunday. With the company of a paying adult, those under the age of 18 years are admitted free of charge. Adults aged 18 to 24 years can always register for discounted admissions into the racecourse.

The most notableraces held at Huntingdon are the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle and the Peterborough chase. The Sidney Banks Memorial hurdle is for horses at the age of  four years and above. It is run over  3,947 metres, and takes place every February. The race was inaugurated in 1976. The Peterborough on the other hand is a grade 2 race run over 4,124 meters with the jumping of sixteen hurdles. It allows in competitors aged four years and above and takes place every December. It first took place in 1969.

Apart from being a horse racing venue, the racecourse is also a wedding, exhibitions, conference and car boot sales venue. This is mainly due to its convenient location and state-of-the-art facilities.

Born 11th April 1979, Desert Orchid was a much-loved horse that took part in various races. An English racehorse known affectionately as Dessie, it was long seen as an iconic part of the British horseracing scene. With a front-running and aggressive style, Dessie was loved by all who watched him ride. Known for his quality and determination as much as anything else, Dessie was a versatile horse who carried out an incredible range of feats on the track.


Across a stellar career, Desert Orchid enjoyed four different jump jockeys on its back: Colin Brown, Richard Linley, Simon Sherwood and Richard Dunwoody. Brian Rouse also had the pleasure of riding Dessie on its one and only flat race.


In a stellar career, the horse picked up an incredible number of honors. From the 1984 Tolworth Hurdle win through to its final victory at the Irish Grand National in 1990, Dessie picked up an incredible sum of wins and success.


Arguably one of the greatest moments, though, came during the 1989 Victor Chandler Handicap Chase. Taking on four incredible rivals, Orchard fell and then managed to carry out an incredible comeback, defeating Panto Prince – the top-rated horse of the race, arguably – by a full head.


It also took part at the Cheltenham Gold Cup where it incredibly fought through terrible conditions and taking on a 3 mile course, as opposed to a 2 mile course. It came from back to defeat Yahoo in the late race stages, and it was cheered by thousands of fans at the end of the race. The race was voted the best ever by Racing Post fans, too!


Desert Orchid sadly passed on Monday 13th November, 2006. A stellar career, it was honored with the now-loved Desert Orchid Chase event.


This update is a little bit special as it emphasises Fujiyama Crests role and that of six other race horses in one of the biggest betting bonanzas in horse racing history. Coined the ‘Magnificent seven’ , the horses in question were all ridden on one unforgettable day in 1996 by Champion Jockey Frankie Dettori. Dettori has such a dedicated following that some of his more enthusiastic supporters made the decision to bet on all seven of the horses he was riding that day at Ascot racecourse. The horses in question were Wall Street, Diffident, Mark Of Esteem and Fatefully – all trained by Saeed bin Suroor – as well as Decorated Hero, Lochangel and finally Fujiyama Crest in the last race.

Betting odds of the selections ranged from Wallstreet and Fujiyama Crest at 2-1, to bigger odds, with Diffident at 12-1. Of course any bet relying on all of these horses winning was going to be a substantial payout for punters, and as luck (or skill!) would have it, that is exactly what transpired that day. It was a bad day for bookmakers by all accounts (off course bookie losses amounted to £30,000,000+) and a very good one for those choosing to go with Dettori’s talent, and that of the magnificent seven horses, when placing their bets. Winning seven races on a race card was a feat never achieved before or since.

News of the betting feat spread not just across UK media, but around the world and word of those lucky punters who placed accumulator bets on all seven selections started to emerge. The cumulative odds of those opting to bet on the seven horses was over 25,000-1, with much bigger odds available to punters opting for early betting odds rather than SP. Two fortunate punters won more than half a million pounds each. One, named Darren Yeats from Morecombe, UK had a £59 accumulator bet on the seven selections and won a staggering £550,000.

The horses involved in the magnificent seven have cemented their place in racing history. Some of them such as Mark of Esteem and Fatefully put in career best performances, just snatching a win in tough battles. Fujiyama Crest was the last, but not least, selection needed to complete the magnificent seven bet. Running in the Gordon Carter Handicap which he’d won the previous year, the Michael Stoute trained horse was certainly in with a shot. Bookmakers would save millions of pounds if he lost. Taking an early lead and staying ahead of the pack, all was well. Late of though. Pat Eddery on Northern Fleet decided to try to throw a spanner in the works, but Furiyama Crest showed grit and determination and won by the neck. The rest as they say is history!

Sadly Fujiyama Crest died in 2015, but he lived to the ripe old age of 25. His life as a hurdler and flat racer was eventful, as was his retirement. Touched by his role in the most memorable series of wins of his career, Frankie Dettori had bought the horse so it could enjoy its retirement. It had been with him for the past 15 years as a family pet having a well earned rest!

“Fujiyama Crest was the horse that made me famous. I didn’t know anything about all the bets that had been won until the next day, but even now, people will still come up to me and tell me how much I changed their life.” said Dettori of the horse

In the post-war era, three horses have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times but, with all due respect to Cottage Rake and Best Mate, Arkle is the benchmark against which all other steeplechasers have been measured for nearly five decades. His Timeform rating of 212 is the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser and, with the exception of his contemporary and stablemate, Flyingbolt, no other has ever come close to reaching the same level. Best Mate, for example, achieved a Timeform rating of ‘just’ 185.


Foaled at the Ballymacoll Stud in County Meath, Ireland in 1957 and named after a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, Arkle fittingly made a winning debut over fences in the Honeybourne Chase at Cheltenham in November, 1962. He returned to Prestbury Park the following March to win the Broadway Novices’ Chase, latterly the RSA Chase, and subsequently won at Fairyhouse and Navan to finish the 1962/63 season unbeaten.


He first met Mill House, who was to become his nearest rival on the racecourse, in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, 1963. On that occasion, Arkle slipped at the third fence from home and could eventually finish only third, beaten 8 lengths, behind Mill House, who was conceding 5lb.


However, Arkle gained his revenge in the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup, beating Mill House by 5 lengths, at level weights, after an epic duel over the last two miles. He repeated the dose the following year, making all the running to beat Mill House by an effortless 20 lengths, and confirmed his legendary status by beating Dormant by 30 lengths in the 1966 Cheltenham Gold Cup, despite making an uncharacteristic blunder at the eleventh fence.


In his first race of the 1966/67 season, Arkle went down by half a length to Stalbridge Colonist, who was receiving two-and-a-half stone, in the Hennessy Gold Cup. He won the SGB Handicap Chase at Ascot by 15 lengths, conceding 32lb and upwards to his rivals, and headed to Kempton for the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.


However, despite going down by just a length to Dormant, he suffered a fracture of his pedal bone in the closing stages and finished very lame. He recovered from the injury, but not sufficiently to return to the racecourse and was retired in 1968. He made his final public appearance at the Horse of the Year Show in 1969 but, sadly, was not to enjoy the long and happy retirement he deserved. In early 1970, he started to show signs of stiffness in his hind legs and, despite treatment for arthritis, his health worsened and he was put down later that year at the age of thirteen.


Originally bought for the princely sum of 1,150 guineas by trainer Tom Dreaper, on behalf of Anne, Duchess of Westminster, Arkle ran in 26 steeplechases. He was ridden in all 26 by Pat Taaffe, starting at odds-on on 22 occasions, and winning all but four. In fact, only six horses finished in front of him in 26 steeplechases and, aside from winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times, he won the Hennessy Gold Cup (twice), the King George VI Chase and the Irish Grand National.


His Timeform rating may have been criticised for being “exaggerated”, at a time when no central handicapping existed, but the legend of the horse often referred to in his heyday simply as “Himself” endures. He is remembered by the Arkle Challenge Trophy on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, he is one of just three horses to be honoured with a statue at the course and his skeleton is on public display at the Irish Horse Racing Museum.