Desert Horse Park

Karrie Rufer Powers to the Top in the $50,000 Pyranha National Grand Prix

Thermal, California, USA – March 04, 2023 – Karrie Rufer (USA) has known for quite some time that she had a special horse on her hands with Stern dei Folletti. Now, with several grand prix and FEI wins under their belts, the rest of the world knows it too. Saturday afternoon, she and the Morning Star Sporthorses-owned 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Toulon x Berlin) added another victory, topping the extremely competitive $50,000 Pyranha National Grand Prix.

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Foletti

In the middle of a seven-horse jump-off over Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) track, Rufer knew the pace had been set at a quick pace by Kyle King (USA), but she also had faith in Stern Dei Folletti. She blazed to a time of 41.752 seconds, leaving the rest of the field to catch her.

Mark Kinsella (CAN) & Asselin’s Quality H

Mark Kinsella and Ben Asselin’s Quality H came very close, clocking in at 42.001 seconds, ultimately taking second place.

Kyle King (USA) & SIG Chiari

Kyle King (USA) ended up third with SIG International’s SIG Chiari.

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti

“With that horse, you have to find a good [distance] to the first jump with a nice rhythm and balance and then you follow his lead,” Rufer said of her jump-off strategy with Stern dei Folletti. “He doesn’t ever want to slow down. It’s really just using his pace and his stride to make up the time in the turns and in the long gallops. The gallop down to the double today was a long ways away. You had to land, gallop, and trust. Luckily we found it really nicely and he backed up beautifully for me. I was very proud of him.”

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Foletti

The partnership has been years in the making, but the wins are coming in spades recently, proving her efforts and patience have been worthwhile. “He knows what jump-offs are,” Rufer continued. “He’s very smart about that. I’ve never had a horse that good at understanding the job in a jump-off. He’ll do everything in his power to miss the jumps to help me out. Feeling that fight is an incredible feeling. I have had him for six years and he’s just gotten better and better. It’s fun to have days like this where it all goes right.”

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Foletti

Rufer, an amateur rider, admits the horse’s progression was a team effort with many key players.

“I wish I could take all the credit; I had some great help along the way,” she shared. “In Europe I had Eoin McMahon (IRL) help and start him as a 7-year-old, I had Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) who rode him as a young horse, and Mark Kinsella (IRL) actually had him for a little bit and taught him the flatwork and adjustability. It was a huge group effort and it took a lot of patience.”

The win Saturday gave Rufer something extra to raise her glass to. Her groom, Cristofer Mendoza, was prepared with her celebratory glass of ringside rosé.

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Foletti

“The rosé is key to my success,” she joked. “It’s probably because [Cristofer] knows I’ll go faster so I can come out and have a glass. My team is so supportive. It’s been so lovely to have the group of people we have who take care of the horses and really love them.”

As a top amateur rider competing daily against the best pros in the business, Rufer has an excellent outlook on how to stay strong despite the pitfalls every rider will inevitably experience.

“You have to have a short-term memory because things go badly way more often than they go well,” she shared. “You have to let it roll off your back and start again the next day. Win or lose, have a good attitude. Enjoy the times when it goes well but if it doesn’t go well, you have to move on, have some rosé, and get up the next day and try again.”

Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti in their winning presentation, pictured with Christina Grindt of Pyranha and Stern Dei Folletti’s groom, Cristofer Mendoza.

Final Results: $50,000 Pyranha National Grand Prix

1) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern dei Folletti / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC – 0 / 0 – 41.752

2) Mark Kinsella (IRL) & Quality H / Ben Asselin – 0 / 0 – 42.001

3) Kyle King (USA) & SIG Chiari / SIG International Inc – 0 / 0 – 42.617

4) Samara Heinrichs Prak (USA) & Peninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak – 0 / 0 – 46.442

5) Jennifer Waxman (USA) & Scato Van De Molenbrug Z / The Scato Group LLC – 0 / 0 – 49.988

6) Nicolas Gamboa (COL) & NKH Mr. Darcy / Windsor Davis Gerrish – 0 / 4 – 40.757

7) Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Palina De L’Escaut / SWS Training & Sales – 0 / 8 – 40.293

8) Shawn Casady (USA) & Castelissimo / Tiffany Sullivan – 4 – 80.676

9) Kyle King (USA) & Odysseus / Patricia Vasey – 4 – 81.174

10) Jeffrey Fields (USA) & Sherlina Ale / Sahana Ganesan – 4 –81.314

11) Michael Williamson (USA) & Granito Noordenhoek / / Michael Williamson – 4 – 82.060

12) Kyle King (USA) & Ittolo / Kerri Volek – 4 – 82.173

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

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