ISLAMABAD (APP): Bad luck continues robbing Pakistan’s Melbourne-based equestrian Usman Khan of the chance to make an Olympic debut as he has lost his equine partner ‘Kasheer’ at FEI Naracoorte, SA, Australia Horse Trials CIC 4stars, which served as Olympic Qualifiers.
“We announce with a heavy heart the sad passing of Pakistan’s steed ‘Kasheer’. We are devastated. Vale Kasheer, Rest in Peace!” Usman’s team told APP through a message on Monday.
“The combination [Usman and Kasheer] did an excellent dressage test, which put them in third place, which was followed by a well-ridden showjumping round with only one rail. This placed Pakistan combination in the second place before going into cross-country.” This was Pakistan’s highest rank position after two phases at an Olympic qualifier in 73 years. Recently, Usman had set a national record at CIC 4 star dressage in the Sydney International Three Day Event.
“A win for Pakistan was within the sight as they had previously cleared all their cross-country rounds. The duo of Kasheer-Khan commenced the cross country on the final day (Sunday, 16 May). A national record in the sight, a new chapter in international equestrian history and possibly Pakistan’s first win at FEI CIC 4 star.
“Clear round meant, they would have become the first Pakistani duo to win Olympic qualifier, the first ever in Southern Hemisphere too. They would have also become the first Asian and middle Eastern duo to win in Australia.”
“They soared together and cleared all hurdles. The rhythm of the duo was so well machine that they averaged a pace of 35km/h and 570mps. As the local crowd cheered for the underdog combination, they looked far most impressive in 16 years. A new chapter of Pakistan was about to unfold.” “On approach to the last fence, they looked promising.
They were 50 metres away from the finish line with only one fence to clear, a record in sight, Olympic qualification at stake, more importantly, a dream of a nation they carried on their shoulders. Usman and Kasheer jumped the last fence, cleared it.
Kasheer hit his right knee on takeoff, there was no FEI safety pin system being used at Narracorte at CIC4 Star level. Had there been, the top rail would have given the way. This will need to be investigated by FEI in due course.
“The duo tragically fell metres away from the finish line, only after clearing the last fence. It’s believed that Usman fell so close to the finish line that he wanted to crawl towards. Kasheer had a rotational fall and landed on his neck. Kasheer sadly died on impact.
“Usman fell head down heavily and Kasheer landed on him. The rider remained unconscious for two to four minutes. And when he regained consciousness, the first thing he asked was the welfare of Kasheer,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Usman, who was shifted to a hospital in Mount Gambier, South Australia after sustaining serious injuries in the incident told this news agency via a WhatsApp message that he was in stable condition now.
“People of Pakistan must know. We tried. I am sorry and take the responsibility. May Allah give us strength to raise the name of Pakistan and Kashmir,” the 39-year-old reckoned.
The Lahore-born rider secured an individual Olympics quota in Eventing in December 2019, becoming the first Pakistani in the county’s history to do so. But since then, he met with myriad challenges. His 13-year-old New Zealand thoroughbred horse, which he named ‘Azad Kashmir’ died of a severe heart attack in September, last year, jeopardizing the eventer’s 15-year odyssey for the prestigious event.
Then, he attended a qualification round in Sydney in February, this year where at one stage he was fourth after clear showjumping but tumbled to seventh place due to a slow cross-country show as both he and his new horse got injured. Last month, Usman was compelled to withdraw from a qualifying round in Wallaby Hill, New South Wales, Australia, as Kasheer suffered from high temperature. The death of Kasheer, which is the Kashmiri name of Kashmir has once again shattered his Olympic dream.