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Nine-year-old rides high

He is just nine and his feet barely touch the stirrups when he is astride but Josh Dasgupta took everyone by surprise when he rode Aperitivo, once one of the city’s biggest and best racing horses and now known for its difficult temperament.

For Josh, winner of the Indian Dressage League East Zone Qualifier and runner-up in the national qualifiers recently, it’s just one of many achievements.

“He knows no fears. Though his leg finishes where the horse’s saddle ends and he was looking like a dot on a mountain, he managed to ride Aperitivo. He is amazing,” said Lt Col Shailender Singh, who trains Josh.

The Class IV student of La Martiniere for Boys took to horse riding when he was just four. “One day I went to Victoria Memorial with my grandfather and saw horses there. I was fascinated by them and seeing my interest in horses, my grandfather started taking me to the Maidan every Sunday for a horse ride,” he said.

Josh’s fifth birthday gift was a place in the horse riding classes at Tollygunge Club, where he impressed trainer Dinesh Chandra Sikdar from Day One. “He can connect with the horses easily. Since he is so passionate about riding, he learns everything by heart. That helps him pick up techniques fast,” said Sikdar.

Such is his passion that on holidays, he wakes up before 4am and gets ready to go riding. “On his way to the club and back, he only talks horses,” said grandfather Prodyut Sarkar, who has been taking the boy to the stables for training twice a week for the past four years.

Josh literally eats, drinks and sleeps horses. “Flicka is my favourite film,” said the boy whose best buddies are Speedy and Lemonade, two ponies at the Tolly stables.

Parents Jayanta and Arunima Dasgupta, both musicians and members of The Saturday Night Blues Band, hope Josh fulfils his dream of representing India at the Olympics and winning a gold in his favourite event — show jumping.