By Mark Etheridge
Three-time Paralympian Philippa Johnson is in the pound seat to ride her way to yet another global sports spectacular in Rio later this year.
The double gold medallist dressage competitor from Beijing eight years ago has struck a rich vein of form in Europe of late, the most recent in Deauville, France where she won all three of her Grade III classes.
She told Road to Rio 2016: ‘Lord Louis decided that the option of being left in France wasn’t good. He pulled out all the stops and was especially good on the first day which was a surprise as that is his most difficult test.
The Grade III was the biggest class with 25 horses. The first day was a bit rocky in that there were two retirements and four eliminations but we won with 71.29%.
‘The second day in the Individual Championships he still felt good but was a touch behind my leg and we won with 71.27%.
This meant of course that we made the top seven for the Freestyle and he was fabulous scoring a 80.5% from one of the judges. We won with 75.60% so a hat trick for SA!’
Said Dressage SA’s former Chef D’Equipe, Jenny Neill: ‘We are very excited about Philippa, her results are brilliant. Lord Louis, has matured and now they have a secure bond, as can be seen from the results.
‘SA have secured the one slot for the Paralympic games and Philippa is in the top spot and I doubt that will change as Rio 2016 eligibility results cut-off in June.
‘FEI offered to assist us with another individual slot, but in terms of the agreement between SASCOC and the SA Equestrian Federation (SAEF) this was not possible.’
Johnson is also in line to win the Allianz Athlete of the Month award for April. To vote for her go to the International Paralympic Committee home page: https://www.paralympic.org/