Biko “Horse of the Century” -Irish Horse Gateway Hall of Fame
By Beau Charmeur (TB) out of a Prince Hansel (TB) mare.
“He had a full brother who competed the Grand National, amazing conformation, beautiful withers–which actually kept me in the saddle most of the time, great shoulder, wonderful length hip to hock. He was an unbelievably good looking horse with impressive size at 17.3. He had an amazing work ethic and loved to be ridden every day, and an unbelievable gallop and incredible brain. A gentle giant.” Karen O’Connor Podcast from Chris Stafford Radio
The 17.3-hand Irish-bred bay gelding stood out in the eventing world with his flashy white blaze. He was named by William Micklem, the Irish breeder and coach of elite sports horses after the South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko. Micklem’s brother John spotted Biko in Jack Deacon’s yard in Co. Wexford, Ireland. William Micklem bought him as a 3-year-old from Wexford and invested some years of training before selling Biko as a 6- year old to the late Dick and Vita Thompson, for Karen O’Connor with whom the horse developed a wonderful partnership.
The Irish Thoroughbred gelding caught the imagination of the American public and became a famous “ambassador for the sport of eventing. After winning a silver medal with O’Connor at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Biko was then honoured by the USEA’s “Horse of the Century” award for the 20th century and in 2006 he was inducted into the USEA Hall of Fame
“Biko was a truly magnificent horse because he had such fine qualities all around, which is really unusual,”. “He was beautiful; he had exceptional strides, jump, and gallop, with fantastic technique and scope. He could have been a racehorse, like his brother Jumbeau, or he could have been a show jumper. He turned out to be an impressive eventing horse, which is no surprise. He had no fear of jump heights or water, and he had gallop to spare.” William Micklem The Horse Magazine.
In 1996 the silver-medal Olympic eventing team riders were invited to the White House by President Bill Clinton. His daughter Chelsea Clinton wanted to meet O’Connor first, because she was such a fan of Biko. He was retired in 1999 after sustaining a bad tendon injury at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford, U.K. He died Jan. 29 2014 at his home at Karen O’Connor’s farm
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