Calcutta, Dec. 3: Itís not exactly my style. Throwing tantrumsó and my rider off my back ó and then galloping away. But I couldnít help it. Not when the saddle kept brushing against the skin on my belly that was raw from constant friction.
If horses could speak, thatís what Itís My Style would have said. The Mounted Police steed threw off its rider and ran the entire stretch of the cityís newest and longest flyover on Lower Circular Road, leaving the morning traffic stranded in its tracks.
The 12-year-old former racehorse, which used to set the Royal Calcutta Turf Club tracks on fire till it was 10, ran the most exciting lap of its career today. Starting from the southern gate of Victoria Memorial, near the place where the horse and its rider do their rounds, Itís My Style ran a show-stopper of a race till it was intercepted at the other end of the flyover near Park Circus and taken to its stable at the Mounted Police headquarters on S.. Banerjee Road.
The day began like any other for Itís My Style. Woken up around 5 am for the duty that would start an hour later, the bay-coloured horse joined its rider, R.P. Sharma, who took it to Victoria Memorial, their everyday beat.
What Sharma did not know was the raw point on his horseís belly. Friction with the saddle this morning must have been uncomfortable but the horse, shifted to the easier job of patrolling with the police after its 10th birthday, bore with it till seven.
It must have hurt bad as it shrugged off years of training and regimentation after that, reared up and threw an unprepared Sharma off the saddle. Sharma landed on his right arm on the tarmac and, last heard, was being operated on at SSKM Hospital for a fracture.
Men inside a police patrol vehicle nearby saw what had happened and, after tending to Sharma, tried to rein in the horse. But Itís My Style, seeing an open stretch in front for the first time in years, was by then checking out its own race-worthiness.
It reared up on its hind legs, ran a few dozen paces, stopped to see what Calcutta, stretching out below, looked like and then ó perhaps bored by the sight ó again started to run. A sparse Calcutta morning traffic watched speechless and stationary.
The police vehicle, not intending to scare it away, followed a few discreet yards behind and nearly caught up with the horse, which was already close to the Park Circus end of the flyover ó in front of the Bangladesh deputy high commission.
But Itís My Style did not halt its flight of freedom until after it had cleared the flyover.
Maybe, there was something in the slope of the flyover as it rose in a proud curve off the ground that had spurred it on. Maybe, it was the smell of wet grass from the racecourse behind where it blazed the tracks in the winter of 1998 when it won two races.
As the horse hit flat ground, it came back to earth. Itís My Style gave itself up, its chasers heaved a collective sigh of relief and walked it back to the stable.
ďThe horseís wound is being treated,Ē joint commissioner (traffic) Banibrata Basu said, adding that the injury should have come to the notice of the horseís attendants earlier.
The Telegraph tried to pay this horse that broke free ó even if briefly ó a visit at the stable but was not allowed in.