Those lucky enough to have been involved with the iconic Desert Orchid were quick to praise the galloping grey following his death yesterday.
Dessie lit up the National Hunt arena on countless occasions over the years and died peacefully, aged 27.
Colin Brown, the man who partnered Dessie through the early stages of his racing career, led the glowing tributes for the talismanic chaser.
"He was a different class. I rode him in more than 40 races and won 17," he said. "He was just an outstanding horse with an outstanding character. He could be stroppy sometimes but he was a real professional.
"The first time I saw him was when he came off the box at David Elsworth’s yard as a three-year-old.
"He was just a tiny, hairy thing, but he progressed, galloped well at home and jumped like a buck. Once he strengthened up, you could do whatever you wanted on him. It was like driving a Ferrari rather than a Cortina.
"Every time I rode him was a highlight. I used to love going to Wincanton for the Jim Ford on the way to Cheltenham every year and there was a memorable Gainsborough Chase I won on him at Sandown.
"He also had a fantastic retirement. I remember when I used to ride him in the parade before the King George. He looked as though he was running away with me but he wasn’t. He’d go like the clappers but he was very clever. He would pull up when you wanted him to.
"I owe my career to him. I do corporate hospitality these days and whenever I mention that I used to ride Desert Orchid even the most bored people in the room are suddenly interested."
Simon Sherwood also united with the Elsworth’s hero and the pair struck up a fantastic partnership in 1988-89.
They gained their most famous victory in the Gold Cup, where Desert Orchid’s battling success over Yahoo sent a bedraggled Cheltenham faithful into raptures.
"To me he was obviously a great friend and was just the greatest horse you could ever wish to ride in a race," Sherwood explained.
"He was brave, tough, intelligent and totally honest.
"He gave me a Whitbread, a Gold Cup and two King Georges to name just a few and he was arguably the most charismatic racehorse we’ve had for the last decade and more.
"He remained at the top level for a long period of time, doing it the hard way from the front.
"Obviously, the Gold Cup was really special and it’s only afterwards that you hear some of the anecdotes of people’s experiences of that day.
"The other race I’ll always enjoy is the Whitbread that he won off top weight over a trip that most people thought he’d probably never get.
"But every ride on him was a bit special."
While his success in the Gold Cup proved to be his only victory at the home of National Hunt racing, it undoubtedly provided one of the defining chapters in his incredible tale.
"Racing was blessed by such an easily recognised hero who battled to the line, often achieving victory in a dramatic last stride," said Edward Gillespie, managing director at Cheltenham.
"Desert Orchid has left the sport which is far stronger than the one he joined, due much to his own achievements and the involvement he demanded of his audience."
Richard Dunwoody took over from Sherwood for the last two years of Dessie’s career.
The former champion jockey won seven races on the popular grey, including two King George VI Chases and the Irish Grand National.
He said: "It’s very sad. He was a fantastic horse, without doubt the best horse I ever rode in my career."
Former jockey Brendan Powell recalls getting into some memorable battles with Elsworth’s grey in years gone by.
One particular contest etched into racing folklore is the 1989 Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, when Desert Orchid displayed all his legendary spirit to overhaul Powell and Panto Prince after the pair had engaged in a rousing tussle.
Powell said: "We matched strides all the way round and going to the last I still thought we’d win but he was an amazing horse.
"He’d be three or four wide of you and then Simon would pull him in and as soon as he got to you he’d go and find a bit more.
"I think that was actually named the race of the season and we went some gallop from the word go and it was scary half the time."
"He was just a great horse," he said.
British Horseracing Board chairman Martin Broughton added: "Desert Orchid was a wonderful horse of great talent and flair who became an icon for racing.
"He was the best-known and most-loved horse of recent decades and so many of his thrilling, brave victories will live long in the memory."