Temecula, California – April 27, 2022 – Competition resumed Wednesday at Galway Downs for Temecula Valley National Premier II, the second of five weeks of competition this spring hosted by Nilforushan Equisport Events. The feature class of the day, held in the Grand Prix Arena, was the $10,000 1.35m CWD Welcome Stake, welcoming 35 competitors. Over a track set by Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr., the elite horse-and-rider combinations navigated a tricky first round and attempted to leave all rails intact to advance to the tiebreaking jump-off. After all pairs had gone, it was Karrie Rufer (USA) and Georgie D’Auvray, owned by Morning Star Sporthorses LLC, in the winner’s circle.
The course featured several challenges, including an oxer-vertical double combination, a double of verticals sitting right beside the in-gate, a careful plank vertical and several tricky bending lines. The jump-off track began with two winding rollback turns where riders attempted to cut as tightly as possible before the track opened up and became a footrace to the final fence.
First to go was Great Britain’s Charlie Jones (GBR) and Lindsay Maxwell’s Charismo Z, adding the first double-clear effort to the board and setting the pace with a time of 37.181 seconds in the jump-off. Following Jones, many pairs struggled both in the first course and in the jump-off, which featured a sharp inside turn that caused rails and refusals. It would be until Karrie Rufer, close to the midpoint in the order of go, before the class saw another double-clear ride. She did so aboard Georgie D’Auvray EC and slid into the leading spot with a jump-off time of 37.125 seconds, just a hair ahead of Jones and Charismo, the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, who would eventually finish second.
Rufer, on her longtime mount, the 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood, took an inside turn Jones did not take, then let the gelding’s natural footspeed take care of the rest. She took quick approaches to each of the lines on the jump-off track and left out a stride in the bending line to take over the lead. As rails continued to fall on course, the only other pair to come close to the two leading times was Ariel Marx (USA) with Zella 2, her 10-year-old Rhinelander mare, who finished in a time of 39.29 seconds, claiming third place. Several pairs would ultimately top Rufer’s time, some as quick as 33.83 seconds, but at the expense of rails down on the short course.
Temecula Valley National Premier II continues Thursday with the $2,500 RE\MAX Luxury Collection 1.30m Open Jumper Speed Classic II.1, which serves as a Zone 10 NAYC Pre-Junior Trial, followed by the $25,000 Equestrian Lifestyle Boutique 1.40m Speed Classic II.1, serving as a Zone 10 NAYC Young Rider Trial.
From the Winners Circle
Karrie Rufer (USA) – $10,000 1.35m CWD Welcome Stake winner
On her jump-off:
“My fiance [Kevin Winkel] did the inside turn and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, but he encouraged me to. The horse is 16 so at that age you don’t know how many classes you have left. With the break with EHV he’s lost a bit of jumping fitness so I was like, ‘why not?’ I’ve had him for almost eight years so if we don’t know each other by now we’re in trouble. I wasn’t super efficient to the first and second in the jump-off but I picked up the pace a little and was quick through the middle and over to the double. His stride isn’t massive so you don’t have to go super slow. I kept a nice pace throughout so I finished up on a nice enough pace.”
On her partnership with Georgie D’Auvray EC:
“I’ve done everything with this horse. He is a pet. You can lay down with him while he’s flat out sleeping in his stall. I’ve curled up into his shoulder and rested my cheek on his cheek. He’s so kind and so funny. He just has the gentlest soul I’ve ever met. For him being 16, he just doesn’t get tired. He wants to go to the ring every day and is in a great mood. He just feels like it’s a party for him. Horses always tell you when they’re ready to retire and he feels like he’ll go for several more years which is great. I’ve done FEI World Cup™ Qualifiers on him, I was second in a CSI3* World Cup Qualifier in Sacramento and third in a CSI4* World Cup Qualifier in Vegas. He’s taken me to Spruce Meadows and Wellington and just everywhere. He’s a real sweetheart.”
On Georgie’s nicknames:
“We call him the flying hippo. When you look at him he’s kind of a cart horse. He’s not necessarily this svelte, put-together sport horse that you would think of as being hyper-athletic. It’s all heart with that horse, every time. He shows it in the way he goes around, he just has a good time. Even in the victory gallop he’s just bucking. Luckily I’ve learned how to sit them. He never does anything dirty or mean, he’s just having a good time. We understand each other at this point. I put my four-year-old niece on him and he knows who’s on his back. He knows when he needs to care for something. We want to create an album of all of Georgie’s antics and call it ‘Mr. Hippo’s Wild Ride.’”
On returning to Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“It’s so nice to be back showing and to have a crowd here that’s appreciative. The days are long; I have a young horse and go early in the morning but luckily I have a camper onsite. By the end of the day you’re pretty tired but it’s nice to have a crowd that appreciates it. It makes the horses and riders rise to the occasion and gives it a nice atmosphere. Everything’s been great – the food, the service, all of it. It’s great to be at a show where you can feel your hard work is appreciated when you go in and have a good round and people are there cheering. It’s such a nice atmosphere to come back to.”
Final Results – $10,000 CWD Welcome Stake
1) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Georgie D’auvray EC – 0 / 0 – 37.12
2) Charlie Jones (GBR) & Charismo Z – 0 / 0 – 37.181
3) Ariel Marx (USA) & Zella 2 – 0 / 0 – 39.29
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas / Phelps Media Group for Temecula Valley National Horse Show
Photos: © Emma Miller / Tori Bilas