Paige Johnson and Luke Skywalker 46 made a fast move to the top of the leaderboard in the first FEI sanctioned grand prix of the fall season at Tryon International Equestrian Center near Mill Spring, North Carolina, in the $127,000 Suncast® Grand Prix FEI CSI3*. Johnson bested the class of 31 international entries with a blazing time of 40.24 seconds in the jump-off to cap their night with a win. Ali Wolff (USA) followed in second place aboard Brianda completing their jump-off round in 42.02 seconds, while Sharn Wordley (NZL) piloted Casper to a third place finish with a time of 42.96 seconds.
Johnson went early in the first round, drawing fourth in the order of go, earning the first clean effort around a tough track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA). Consulting with coach Kent Farrington by phone throughout the night (Farrington was competing in California at the Del Mar International Horse Show), Johnson commented that “Luke” jumped beautifully in the first round giving her confidence moving forward into the jump-off, where they would finish as only one of four double clear trips.
“I went in early in both rounds and wanted to stick with my plan. I just wanted to do the best I could and it worked out. I know him really well now. We got him when he was eight and now he’s ten so we’ve grown up together and I trust him completely,” she remarked. “Once we went clear I made sure to go over my plan with Brian Walker and Kent, who work together, and they talked before I went in. Kent called me and he had watched my first round. They both told me to do the seven in the last line and I just tried to execute. I have a great team around me.”