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Asian Games 2018: Woes hit Indian equestrian team, horses left without grooms for hours

The Equestrian Federation of India had selected a team in May and a day later sent out a circular declaring the selection null and void.

other sports Updated: Aug 16, 2018 12:12 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Jakarta
asian games,horse,india
The grooms (stable boys) --- who take care of the horses --- were not allowed to tend to them as they had no clearance (a mandatory process following accreditation) for more than five hours.(Getty)

It has been a nightmarish journey for the Indian equestrian team to Jakarta after they got their accreditation only a day before they were scheduled to leave for the Asian Games. To add to the problems, their horses --- flown in from Belgium and then Chennai --- reached the Games venue without their grooms, creating a situation where they were ushered into the stables here, unattended for hours.

The grooms (stable boys) --- who take care of the horses --- were not allowed to tend to them as they had no clearance (a mandatory process following accreditation) for more than five hours, leaving the horses at the mercy of the stable keepers and rivals, who could potentially spike their fodder with banned substances.

“I would not be surprised if someone tomorrow someone says that Indian horses have tested positive for banned substances. And if something like this happens, it would be a huge embarrassment not just for the riders but also for the country,” said Hasneyn Mirza, who is accompanying his son, show jumper Fouad Mirza.

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“The horses should never be left unsecured as they can inadvertently consume something and fall sick in the stable or fed something spurious. That’s why every rider ensures a groom always accompanies a horse.”

Hasneyn Mirza eventually helped a groom get accreditation at the Games Village on Wednesday morning. “Dope testing has become so advanced that even micrograms of banned substances can be detected in the system. So, one needs to be wary of leaving horses untended.”

He added that despite India winning 10 medals, including three gold, so far in the 67-year history of the Asian Games, the treatment meted out to the sport was abominable.

“I was told to collect accreditations hours before our departure to Jakarta. I don’t know why such a mess is created by authorities concerned just before a major competition, knowing well that equestrian can always bring a medal,” he said.

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“Because of the hassles involved in grooming horses, we are forced to keep them in Europe. Why don’t people here understand that horses are also athletes? Keeping them in unhygienic and claustrophobic stables is detrimental to their health.”

The Equestrian Federation of India had selected a team in May and a day later sent out a circular declaring the selection null and void. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) then said in June that no equestrian team would be sent for the Games because of discrepancies in selection. Finally a seven-member team was cleared by the ministry.

India will be represented in show jumping by Kaevan Setalvad, Chetan Reddy, Zahan Setalvad while Fouad Mirza, Jitender Singh, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Malik will be competing in Eventing.

First Published: Aug 16, 2018 11:43 IST