Shaunak Rides and Drives to victory

Kaevan edges Rezwan to retain title

Shaunak Rides and Drives to victory
In a unique initiative that is a concoction of human, horse and machine, Shaunak Dandekar of Japalouppe, Pune triumphed in the Ride and Drive event at the Equestrian Challenge held at the Equestrian Centre for Excellence on Saturday.

On the second day of the championship, in view of a reasonably sized audience, 16-year-old Shaunak, guiding Black Mama, and his partner Prasad blazed the field in 114.75 seconds, edging Lt Col Sandeep Dewan and Nitin Gupta by two seconds. It was the first time this category was included in an Open Championship in India.

The Ride and Drive event is one where the rider will begin to go through a series of jumps and once he completes the routine, he or she will have to get into a car and the driver will then have to go through a different course designed specifically for the vehicle.

The cumulative time it takes to complete both the processes will be the score of the pairing. Dropped poles, horse refusals and driving errors cost the team a penalty of five seconds.

Dandekar was the fourth participant out of the gates and despite dropping a pole on the fifth jump, Prasad's clean run through the driving circuit ensured the duo clocked 109.75 seconds, before the five second penalty was added.

Dewan, who was the second rider to come out in a field of 15, would have felt hard done after receiving the silver as despite a clean run with Almost Heaven, he was handed a penalty after Gupta hit a pole during their drive.

Embassy Riding School’s Zeeshan Malik, astride Hippie, came in third with a time of 123.69, while Rishabh Mehta was fourth in 120.5 seconds after incurring a 15-second penalty.

Earlier, national champion Kaevan Setalvad, of Team Marcotte, retained his 130 cm title after a jump-off with Mehta and Faiz Rezwan. Piloting Cherokee, Kaevan had a clean run until the final hurdle but nipped a pole for a penalty.

Mehta (Caprice) was out next, but in a nervy run, he faltered at two hurdles to lose his shot at clinching gold.

Rezwan, riding Hugo, was the final competitor and had just dropped just one pole till his final jump but a refusal cost him and with a slower time as compared to Mehta, he had to settle for third. Rushil Patel and Chetan Reddy shared fourth.
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