Thermal, California, USA – January 14, 2023 – Despite being a bride in her own wedding in September of 2022, Karrie Rufer (USA) had been a bridesmaid in the show ring a few too many times. On Saturday, during Desert Circuit II at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP), she broke her streak of second-place finishes, winning the $50,000 Kask National Grand Prix aboard Stern dei Folletti, owned by Morning Star Sporthorses.
After walking out of the ring from her prizegiving, Rufer exclaimed, “The curse is broken!” The California-based rider has come second quite a few times in grand prix action with all of her horses over the past year and was ready to be in the number one spot again.
“Consistency is great; I’m not begrudging the second place but after a while I just want to win one,” she explained. “We’d lose by a tenth of a second. It was so close, so I got a little frustrated. This is our first Grand Prix of 2023 so it looks like I’ve broken the curse. But I’d rather be second 10 times than first one and not for a while.”
Her winning ride, Stern dei Folletti, is a 12-year-old-Holsteiner gelding (Toulon x Berlin) who has really come into his own over the past few years with Rufer aboard.
“He’s such a little fighter and an athlete,” Rufer explained. “I got him when he was 6 years old and he’s very unconventionally built. He has a very short back and the way he went was a bit funky at the beginning. He figured out his body and how to make things work for him. I adjusted to him and he adjusted to me and now we’ve built a great partnership.”
Rufer and “Stan” were one of seven pairs to qualify for Colm Quinn’s short course, including Rufer on her first mount, Mr. Europe.
“I was lucky I had two in the jump-off so I got to go first on [Mr. Europe],” Rufer detailed. “I had an early rail on that one so I took a few risks just to experiment with what I could do with Stan and where I could do the leave-outs. Stan is really great off the long gallop so I took advantage of his huge stride and booked it across the middle of the ring. Turning to the last line, my plan was to do one less to the last fence and the way I came in just didn’t seem to lend itself to that without possibly having that jump down behind. I decided to add and luckily I was just a little faster.”
Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) was unseated from his lead at the time with Hunters Conlypso II (Contendro I x Calypso II) and eventually took third with no penalties in 38.345 seconds.
Della White (USA) and Gucci (Astrello x Unaniem) came in last and just barely snagged second, only two-tenths (38.009) of a second behind Rufer. White was named the EquiFit U25 champion in addition to taking the second-place finish in the Grand Prix.
Rufer is a huge believer in the horsepower she has in Stern Dei Folletti. The horse is afraid of no challenge she throws his way, which is part of what makes the relationship a strong one. “He’s just incredible. He’s afraid of nothing. The harder it is the more he rises to the occasion. He knows the day it’s a grand prix. You push him and he gets more careful. He never gets scared and he never backs off from a challenge. It’s a really special horse to have. He always walks with this strut like he thinks he’s the man, which he is,” she concluded.
Final Results – $50,000 Kask National Grand Prix
1) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC – 0 / 0 – 37.820
2) Della White (USA) & Gucci / Della White – 0 / 0 – 38.009
3) Lorcan Gallagher (IRL) & Hunters Conlypso II / Lorcan Gallagher – 0 / 0 – 38.345
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photos: © DIHP / High Desert Photo / MG