Fouaad, horses and isolation

 The chosen equine will be sent to Belgium to undergo mandatory quarantine before being transported to Tokyo 
Asian Games Medalist Fouaad Mirza (File Photo | PTI)
Asian Games Medalist Fouaad Mirza (File Photo | PTI)

CHENNAI: Both Fouaad Mirza and the horse he will take with him to the Olympics will be fully vaccinated by the time the pair leaves for Tokyo in the fourth week of July. Mirza had his first jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine two weeks ago, while both the horses in contention -- Seigneur Medicott and Dajara 4 -- have already been vaccinated against the Equine Herpes Virus, a disease that ran amok in Europe in February and March. 

"It wasn't mandatory or anything for the horses to be vaccinated but I just wanted to be safe," Mirza tells this safe. Irrespective of their vaccine status, the horse he picks will have to undergo quarantine before they are transported to Tokyo on the 20th or 21st of July. One of Dajara 4 or Medicott (according to Mirza's preference) will be sent to Liege in Belgium where they ll be in quarantine before a 'direct flight will take them to Tokyo', according to Mirza. 

Who amongst Dajara or Medicott will go on that trip? Mirza is yet to make up his mind (he has time till the end of June to convey his decision) but his already working overtime. "I have to think of a couple of factors before deciding," he says. "The horse best equipped to deal with the climate in Tokyo us an important factor. Medicott has shown that he is capable of handling that humidity when he performed well in Jakarta (astride Medicott, Mirza won two Asiad medals in 2018) and I think it won't be dissimilar to the conditions in Tokyo." However, he didn't rule out Dajara completely. "Saying that, Dajara is younger so she could get through it easily.

"Ultimately it will come down to training and which horse gives me the best feeling."

However, for the next three weeks or so, he will be taking it lightly as far as the horses are concerned. He says it will be a well deserved break after 'a taxing schedule'. "Right now, they are outside just eating the grass. Going forward, it is going to be a relaxing routine for the next 2-3 weeks. It's a well deserved rest for both of them. Now is the time for them to rest and recuperate." 

After that period, Mirza will take part in a couple of small meets before one international event in the beginning of July. "Planned a few small shows here and there, international shows probably one in July. But going to be a very quiet next 2-3 weeks. These four star long format events we cover nearly 6kms, it's a lot to ask for a horse. The fitness they need to do these events is high and the preparation they need to do these events is difficult and strenous. They won't lose fitness over the next three weeks, won't hinder my preparation for Tokyo." 

At any time, did the 29-year-old feel he may miss out from the quadrennial bash. "Must say those thoughts would have crossed anyone's mind. I think... doubt is only removed by action. When you are working hard, all you have to do is think of the training days when it's all gone well and that's when you think that you have it. That's what gave me a bit of confidence and comfort."

That is why he begins the confirmation by repeating word 'relief' several times. "Huge relief. Always knew it would happen, but the circumstances with herpes, Covid... it got very difficult had to leave it to the last minute which put a lot of pressure on me but this is good preparation. I have proved that I can handle the pressure. However, lots of improvements still to be made from the horses and me."

If he does make those improvements, this could be the starting of the Fouaad Mirza. 

To take mental trainer.

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