Thermal, California, USA – February 11, 2023 – Karrie Rufer (USA) vacationed in Paris in 2017 and brought home the best possible souvenir she could find: a winning grand prix horse.
“I was vacationing in Paris with a friend when Alex Duffy, who I bought my first grand prix horse from, called me,” Rufer recalled about the day she first heard about Stern dei Folletti. “My friend and I hopped on a train at five a.m. in Paris and went to Dusseldorf and tried the horse. He was just incredible. I fell in love with him and bought him as a 6-year-old.”
Flash forward six years and Rufer and “Stan” have accumulated quite a few victories, including in Saturday’s $38,700 Pomponio Ranch Classic CSI 3* 1.45m at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP). Bernardo Costa Cabral (FRA) designed an impressive course to test the international field, with only five jumping clear. Rufer and the small but mighty 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Toulon x Berlin) put in the quickest of four double-clear rounds for the top call.
Rufer knew the horse would be a stellar competitor early on. “His first show in [North America] was Spruce Meadows as a 7-year-old and he didn’t bat an eye,” she said. “He was so game for whatever you wanted him to do. I knew as a 7-year-old that he was going to be a very special horse.”
“He’s one of the only horses I’ve ever ridden who understands a jump-off,” Rufer continued about what makes the horse so special. “He knows what’s expected, and he gives every jump everything. He’s very smart.
“He fires up in the ring,” Rufer continued. “He’s very calm; you can take him on a trail ride, ride him in a snaffle at home, then he goes in the ring and just knows. He’s got this strut and flick of the tail. He’s aware of the job and always tries to exceed my expectations.”
Rufer and Stan to the winner’s circle, while Kyle King (USA) claimed second with Chess, owned by the Chess Group. Ali Ramsay (CAN) put Canada on the podium in third place with Conrado 12, owned by Ramsay Equestrian Inc.
Rufer is learning and training under Belgian show jumper Gregory Wathelet, who is also racking up wins at DIHP. “It’s great having Gregory here,” she remarked. “He’s a super help and is so knowledgeable. He takes such a detail-oriented approach. It’s great to have that caliber of rider out here on the West Coast because it raises your own expectations. You expect to do better because you have these riders going so much faster and you can learn from them.”
Show jumping concludes for Desert Circuit V with Sunday’s $145,100 Premier Equestrian CSI 3* 1.55m Grand Prix.
Final Results – $38,700 Pomponio Ranch Classic CSI 3* 1.45m
1) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti: 2011 HOLST gelding by Toulon x Berlin, Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC: 0/0/40.33
2) Nick Dello Joio (USA) & Chess: 2011 BWP gelding by Bufero Van Het Panishof x Latano I, Wembley Farms Inc.: 0/0/40.74
3) Ali Ramsay (CAN) & Conrado 12: 2013 ZANG gelding by Cardento x Diarado, Ramsay Equestrian LLC: 0/0/41.91
4) Vanessa Mannix (USA) & Kingston: 2013 AES gelding by Ustinov x Insider, Vanessa Mannix: 0/0/42.22
5) Tali Dejong (USA) & Jeffrey Jarden: 2014 KWPN gelding by Bustique x Warrant, Tali DeJong: 0/4/47.03
6) Katie Laurie (AUS) & McCaw MVNZ: 2011 NZWB gelding by Corofino II x Cassini II, Carissa McCall: 4/72.49
7) Matt Archer (USA) & Zibalouet Z: 2014 ZANG gelding by Zirocco Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet, Rhys Farms, LLC: 4/72.69
8) Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Feyon: 2010 KWPN gelding by Zazou R x Hamilton, SWS Training & Sales: 4/74.87
9) Laura Hite (USA) & Chagall de Toscane: 2012 SF stallion by Norton D’Eole x Opium De Talma, HF Farms LLC: 4/75.64
10) Zume Gallagher (USA) & Calacas d’Aubigny: 2012 SF gelding by Jarnac x Notrestar Dela Nutria, Blue Gate Stables, LLC: 4/75.83
11) Jaehee Jeon (KOR) & Kadans van de Mispelaere: 2010 BWP stallion by Wandor Van De Mispelaere x Lux Z, Brother Fortune Equestrian Ltd.: 4/76.62
12) Zume Gallaher (USA) & Edita: 2009 KWPN mare by Ukato x Clinton, Blue Gate Stables LLC: 8/71.97
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photos: © DIHP / HD – High Desert Photo / TB – Tori Bilas Photography / MG / ON