Equestrian exponent Shruti Vora was left shaking her head in disbelief as the judges at the Dream Park Equestrian Venue announced the scores of her dressage routine on Saturday evening.
Astride Akira, the five-time national champion competing in the team event looked extremely agitated. “I was bang on target. It was a really good showing and I was expecting a top-three finish,” said Shruti, who will be competing in the individual category on Sunday.
The canter was exceptional, the walk, pirouette routine and trot were flawless, but when the scores were announced, there was disappointment all around. They say the crowd knows best and those seated in the galleries clapped heartily the moment Shruti completed her routine and did the customary bow before the judges.
Though the India team, comprising Shubhasri Rajendra (61.895 aggregate points), Nadia Haridass (67.395), Vanita Malhotra (58.947) and Shruti Vora (66.184) finished overall sixth, there was no denying that Shruti deserved more consideration from the judges.
In dressage, the three top scores are taken into account in the team event and India aggregated 65.158. South Korea emerged champions with 71.746 points, Japan were second (69.842) and Chinese Taipei settled for bronze (67.386).
“This is biased marking. Had I given a similar performance in Germany, I would have notched up some 70-odd points,” said Shruti, who felt her chances in the individual event were good, “as the routine is different”.
Shruti’s coach, Maj JS Ahluwalia, explained that Indians competing on foreign soil are always at a disadvantage. “This horse (Akira) is competing outside India for the first time, so the judges (who are regular on the international circuit) haven’t seen her. So, suddenly when they find someone coming from India and competing, these judges have already built an impression,” he said, adding, “It takes time to establish oneself in the minds of the judges.”
On Vanita’s sub-60 score, Ahluwalia said, “She was held up for about five minutes due to some delay on the part of another competitor, which broke her rhythm.”
He also conceded that the quality of horses owned by the Japanese and Koreans was far superior to those owned by his team.
“I invested a couple of lakhs in Akira but here there are horses who come for no less than R8-10 crore....but nothing is lost, tomorrow is another day,” said Shruti.