Biko, Karen O’Connor’s former four-star eventing partner and a fan favorite, died Jan. 29. He was 30.
With O’Connor, Dick and Vita Thompson’s Biko helped the U.S. team to silver at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He also finished third at the 1995 Badminton CCI**** Horse Trials (Great Britain) and fifth in the 1998 Rolex Kentucky CCI****.
Biko was known for his size, standing at 17.3 hands, and his big blaze. In 1999, the Irish Thoroughbred-Irish Draught gelding (Beau Charmer—My Hansel) earned the U.S. Eventing Association’s Horse of the Century Award. He was named the Chronicle’s Eventing Horse of the Year in 1995.
“He’s better than anything I’ve ever ridden, by leaps and bounds. I can’t even compare him to Nos Ecus and Mr. Maxwell—he’s just far superior to them. I don’t imagine in my lifetime that I’ll ever have another horse like Biko,” said O’Connor in that article.
Biko retired in 1999 and had a ceremony at the 2011 Rolex Kentucky. He spent the rest of his days at the O’Connor’s farm in The Plains, Va., turned out with fellow retired top eventers Giltedge, Custom Made and Prince Panache.