Karrie Rufer Returns to the Top of the Podium in $50,000 Kubota National Grand Prix

Thermal, California, USA – March 18, 2023 – Karrie Rufer (USA) wasn’t about to go home without a win. Saturday of Desert Circuit IX, she got that final win and can now call it a circuit. Aboard Stern dei Folletti, she topped the $50,000 Kubota National Grand Prix in an impressive fashion as the sole double-clear effort.

“I always say my goal is consistency and that horse is so consistent,” she said of the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Toulon x Berlin). “Overall he’s been super and has kept the same attitude the whole way. He always sets me up for success because I know he’s always going to go in and try as hard as he can. He was super today.”

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti

Over Peter Grant’s (CAN) track, Rufer was one of only four pairs to jump clean in the first round and advance to the jump-off. Against some quick competitors, she had the benefit of watching the two before her each pull a rail, so clear was her primary mission.

“I knew Kyle [King] was going to be really fast and hard to catch, and when he had the rail down I had to make a choice to go faster and risk the rail as well, or just be more conservative while still being quick enough that if someone were to go clear after you you still might have a shot,” she explained of her strategy in the jump-off. “I chose option ‘B’ and decided to be efficient but not crazy quick, like I know he can be. I wanted him to finish on a solid double-clear round before we go home for a vacation. I definitely had the advantage to go a little bit later.”

Kyle King (USA) & SIG Chiari

Kyle King (USA) ended up second with SIG Chiari (Cristallo II x Landadel), owned by SIG International on the quickest 4-fault jump-off effort, securing second place in 41.883 seconds.

Delaney Batter (USA) & Vulcana

Besides claiming the the EquiFit U25 Classic win with Vulcana (Vulcano x Coronado 3), Delaney Batter (USA) also finished third with her in the grand prix, registering four penalty-points in the tiebreaker too, but being much slower, timed in 45.183 seconds.

“The course was great,” Rufer shared. “Peter Grant (CAN) did a beautiful job this week. The course was tough enough and long enough, andenough of a scope test at the end of the course. It started out really nice and inviting and then it got tougher and more technical. I love courses that build because you’re building confidence as you go.”

Throughout Desert Circuit, Rufer has trained under various big names, among them Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Conor Swail (IRL), learning quite a bit about what she can improve upon with her own riding to take her to the next level.

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti

“My program works to have these amazing riders step in and fine tune but they don’t have to rework the wheel,” she explained. “Gregory has been absolutely amazing. He’s so calm and so knowledgeable and such a horseman. He’s easy to work with but also competitive. I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people – Enrique Gonzalez, Charlie Jayne, and Conor Swail, Cameron Hanley, and Gregory – it’s awesome to have those personalities around you who are so supportive and they want you to do well.”

As Desert Circuit 2023 draws to a close, Rufer recognizes the benefit the circuit and the property bring to her as a rider and her horses, who continue to improve no matter the level they jumped all season long.

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti, pictured with Emma Werner of The Surrey during the awards ceremony.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” Rufer said of her experience during the 2022/2023 season at DIHP. “The horses love it here. It gives you a great opportunity to take horses in different rings. On the grass, under the lights – there’s so much flexibility. It’s great for the younger horses to be exposed to more. They can go and develop and learn. You can challenge them and then bring their confidence back. For me, the fact that the horses have spent the last three months growing and getting better is a testament to how well the circuit is organized and how well the showgrounds are run. They do a really good job of making it exciting and different each week.”

Final Results – $50,000 Kubota National Grand Prix

1) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC – 0 / 0 – 44.040

2) Kyle King (USA) & SIG Chiari / SIG International Inc. – 0 / 4 – 41.883

3) Delaney Batter (USA) & Vulcana / Delaney Batter – 0 / 4 – 45.183

4) Matias Fernandez (CHI) & Emotion Des Truffiers / L & L Equine Investments LLC – 0 / 4 – 45.350

5) Sophia Siegel (USA) & Unchained 2 / Sophia Siegel – 1 – 88.688

6) Elisa Broz (USA) & Tinkerbell / Elisa Broz – 4 – 80.119

7) Robert Blanchette (IRL) & Chardonnay / RTS Holdings LLC – 4 – 81.202

8) Shawn Casady (USA) & NKH Cento Blue / / October Hill Sales Limited – 4 – 81.857

9) Conor Swail (IRL) & Casturano / Conor Swail / 4/84.402

10) Robert Blanchette (IRL) & Carnlea Premier Balou / RTS Holdings LLC – 4 – 85.398

11) Michael Williamson (USA) & Fender P.S. / Michael Williamson – 4 – 85.728

12) Katie Kehring (USA) & King-Boy / / Kehring Family – 6 – 89.407

Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park

Photos: ©  DIHP / HD – High Desert Photo / MG / ON