Though it will be the third consecutive time that ‘Always Welcome’ leads his group, his younger team mates — ‘Dancing Prince’, ‘Greyfinder’, ‘Champion’ and ‘Summer Hill’ — will march in the Republic Day Parade for the first time. These five are among the 20 horses of Kolkata Mounted Police chosen to march on Red Road on Tuesday. For the other special team — including ‘Topper’ and ‘Flora’ from the dog squad — the early morning duty will be a difficult one. With reports of six neo-JMB men sneaking into Bengal and high alert at Malda and Murshidabad, the Red Road Parade arena will see stringent security where these dogs will be deputed to sniff out explosives.
When the march starts, the 20 single-coat horses will become the star attraction along with the police bike show. All eyes will be on ‘Dancing Prince’, ‘Greyfinder’, ‘Champion’ and ‘Summer Hill’ — the newcomers. “They are now seasoned at the Maidan. But a horse joining the show for the first time still needs time to remain relaxed during all the sounds of the band and music. It needs practice. We have had four days of intense practice along with others and we believe the acclimatization has happened,” said an officer.
Each year during the parade, the mounted police are known to induct newcomers. Last year, it was ‘Chandragupta’, ‘Bindusara’ and ‘Ashoka’, the three youngest of the 11 studs that have joined the veterans in the force. ‘Chandragupta’ will be present this year too. ‘Rupmati’, one of the popular horses in the show, though, will not be in the parade this year.
“Some horses, who were veterans in the parades, have retired and we were looking for replacements. We chose the younger ones who matched the skills of the trained horses and can follow instructions,” said an officer.