Appachu qualifies for Jumping Finals

Rider confident of good showing

Karnataka’s Ajai Appachu created history by becoming the first Indian to qualify for the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) World Jumping Challenge Final to be held in Venezuela from July 12 to 17.

The Bangalore-based, Coorg-born rider qualified for the mega event by winning the FEI World Jumping Challenge (Group A) in Meerut last year. Two riders from Zone 9, comprising India, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Qatar, Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Korea and Kazakhstan, made it through to the Final with the two best scores in the event held in Meerut. The event was judged by FEI officials.

Appachu, who is from the Embassy International Riding School here, was not aware of having qualified for the event until a day after the cut-off date for enrolling in the Final and almost missed out on the opportunity.

“The Federation (Equestrian Federation of India) was not aware of the situation,” said Appachu during a press conference in Bangalore on Thursday. “A source called up Major (retd) JS Ahluwalia (Appachu’s coach and EFI vice-president) and that’s when we found out. So we immediately went online and checked the FEI website and my name was on the list of people who have qualified. We mailed them and then they very quickly got back to us and approved my participation in the event,” Appachu explained.  “Now we are trying very hard to get visa,” he added.

The Final will feature 22 riders from eleven zones -- two riders from each zone. The riders will be put to the test over four rounds and eventually four riders will make it to the final.

The final of the event is expected to be held in the format which is followed at the World Championships. Four riders will ride four different horses and their performance on each one of the horses will be rated with points. Points garnered in these four attempts will then be accumulated and the rider with the most number of points will win the event.

“I ride a variety of horses at the ranch so changing horses will not be a tough ask for me. We will be riding borrowed horses and will have a mere half an hour to adjust to them, so my adaptability factor will come to my aid,” said Appachu.

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