By Mark Etheridge
Despite not making it into the top 10 placings, three-time Paralympic equestrian Philippa Johnson has had a satisfying and rewarding outing at the CDI3* Roosendal competition in Belgium.
Johnson told Road to Rio 2016 that Verdi gave her ‘three fabulous rides’ at the three-day competition.
‘Words cannot express how thrilled I was with Verdi. On the first day for the Prix St George he was very hot in the warm-up especially with the changes so I rode the changes carefully in the test, a bit to carefully which caused a mistake in the 4’s which cost us points but for the rest a super test. We finished 15th out of 20 horses with 6.,84%.’
The next day saw the Int1 class, a event which was plagued by a stiff wind giving trouble to both horse and rider.
‘Verdi got one gust of wind under the tail just before going in but he settled into doing a fantastic test. We got to the last extended trot, he was incredible until X and then something spooked him and he cantered off which again cost us points! But we still managed to move up two places to finish 13th with 66.05% which meant that we made the top 15 cut for the big final kur!’
That event was held on Sunday and saw the South African rider and mount first into the arena.
‘Unfortunately we were first in!! But as Chris Haazen [trainer] said, it was the best kur we have ever ridden. Verdi didn’t put a hoof wrong and gave me an exceptional ride. I was disappointed with our score which was 68.55% but the feeling of the ride made up for it. We finished ninth out of the top 15 and all in all he was a brilliant boy!’