Karen O’Connor’s four-star partner Prince Panache was euthanized on May 1 due to complications from old age. He was 32.
Owned by O’Connor’s longtime supporter Jacqueline Mars, the bay Thoroughbred gelding by Nickel King was a fixture on the U.S. eventing team for more than a decade.
Sourced by Susie Pragnell, O’Connor got the ride after the gelding won the Windsor CCI** in England in 1992.
He and O’Connor went on to complete the Rolex Kentucky CCI*** in 1996 and placed fifth at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials CCI**** in 1998.
They were members of the fourth-placed U.S. team at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome, as well as on the bronze medal-winning team at the 2000 Olympics in Australia. O’Connor and “Nash” won the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in 1999 and were third in 2000.
Nash was diagnosed with a heart murmur as a young horse, but he was able to compete safely and comfortably with medication.
“I always said he may have a bad heart, but anybody who knew Prince Panache knew he had a huge heart. There wasn’t anything wrong with his heart,” said O’Connor.
She remembered him as a fierce cross-country partner and a loving horse on the ground.
“He was a lion—very genuine, 100 percent brave and courageous. He had a beautiful gallop and never, ever got tired, no matter how hard the course was or how wet it was. He would have skipped around yesterday’s track [at Rolex],” she said.
O’Connor was able to visit Nash, who lived out his retirement at Mars’ Stonehall Farm in The Plains, Va., last week, and had hoped to be with him when he died, but farm manager and long time groom Sue Clarke called her over the weekend to say it was time.
“I was able to say goodbye to him last week, and Jacquie Mars and I went out in the field together to say goodbye,” she said. “I’m sad today, but I think it’s so remarkable—in the end he was a horse that did a lot for the United States. He won Rolex, he won a lot of competitions. In the end, he was able to choose his time, and isn’t it interesting that he chose the Sunday morning of Rolex?”