Cooking-cleaning, looking after horses and stables: What went into India’s first-ever Olympic quota in Equestrian Dressage | Sport-others News – DollarJob

Cooking-cleaning, looking after horses and stables: What went into India’s first-ever Olympic quota in Equestrian Dressage | Sport-others News


Anush Agarwalla, who got India its first-ever Dressage quota in Equestrian, was once told by his German coach Hubertus Schmidt that everyone can garner sympathy; but jealousy (die missgunst in delish Deutsch) has to be earned. Schmidt, a former Olympic champion and now a highly-decorated trainer, retired as a rider in late 2023 at age 62. But his association with Anush, 24, had already been yielding results prior to his full-time shift, and finally gave India its first Olympic quota in the sport.

Anush is a Kolkata lad hailing from a fairly affluent family, who went to La Martiniere, rode his first pony at Tollygunge, struggled a lot with cooking-cleaning chores after landing in Dressage hub Germany at age 17 having never lifted a plate at home. He could strop off after failure and spent December 2019 ahead of Tokyo working up an almighty sulk after missing Olympic qualification. From then to now, when he’s got down to working stables – cleaning boxes and saddling – Anush has come a long way, earning his envy.

The quota belongs to India, but Anush is fairly confident he’ll keep his spot to represent the country. “It’s not an easy journey, I don’t remember the last Diwali I spent at home. Shifting to Germany where I didn’t know the language or any people at 17, and learning grocery shopping and household chores… but I chose this life, no one forced me,” he says.

Financial backing was never his problem though after he won bronze at Hangzhou Asiad, TOPS chipped in as well. He could lose his rag though when things didn’t go his way, and in the last five years has learnt to work hard to earn his success. “I don’t like accepting failure. But I realised later things could be different if I kept working hard.”

An Instagram post from a musician, who had won an award for the best newcomer at 39, also stayed with him. “He said there’s a reason success can come late – a front-view mirror is greater than a rearview mirror because the future is greater than the past.” Anush stopped worrying, and grew some confidence in himself and his mount Sir Caramello Old. “I’ll continue working hard and firmly believe I’ll be in Paris.”

Long road to Games

Festive offer

His qualification journey was crunched into four events in the last quarter of 2023. “While most medallists from the Asiad took a break after Hangzhou, I trained at the same mental levels,” Anush says. He was in Wroclaw, Poland only three weeks after the Asiad team gold high. “I called up my coach and told him we will qualify.” At one of Europe’s biggest shows, he finished with a commendable 8th-place finish and 73.485 %.

At Kronenberg in the Netherlands thereafter, he achieved his personal best score of 74.4%, finishing 5th behind the reigning World champion lady. “My mum was there so that was a good outing.”

However at Frankfurt, where he and his horse Sir Caramello Old didn’t click as well as he’d have liked, the atmosphere got to them, and the perfectionist in him was disheartened with 72.9%. “This time I turned disappointment into motivation.” At Belgium Mechelen next, he knew there was no room for mistakes, and he coped with pressure for a rousing 74.2%, pipping a Korean rider to the last spot in December 2023.

“When I finished in Belgium, I just looked at my coach and smiled. We said nothing. But I knew we’d achieved the impossible,” he recalls, though confirmation came through only this Monday.

“Sir Caramello Old knows he’s going to the Olympics, so he’s happy too,” Anush guesses about his mount. The chestnut gelding, now 16 years old, came to Anush in September of 2019, after quite some serendipity. Sir Caramello, when new, at age 3 was ridden by German Oliver Luze, then went to Eva Moller in 2011, then to Danish Andreas Helgstrand and then Russian Oleg Efremov, followed by Sergey Puzko, according to He disappeared from peak competition and resurfaced in USA with PJ Rizvi after a few years. After Olympian Ashley Holzer, he was sold to a German barn sale, where the Agarwallas bought him. Tokyo fetched up too soon and ended in tears for Anush, but the mount stayed steady.

An endless fount of misery for those around him after the Tokyo qualification miss where he was showered with sympathy, the rider is a far more self-assured soul now, revelling in jealous swipes coming his way. He’s earned his envy.

Now for nailing the trials, and fulfilling a childhood dream that was born at India’s oldest riding club.


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