A Day of Firsts for Simonne Berg with $100,000 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2* Victory at Sonoma International

Simonne Berg & Cooper fly over the last fence in the jump-off to win. Photo by Four Oaks Creative

The final day of the Split Rock Jumping Tour (SRJT) Sonoma International CSI2* highlighted what was a super week at the Sonoma Horse Park, with the $100,000 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2* on Sunday to close out FEI competition. With only two clear first-round finishers, the class saved the best for last with 25-year-old Simonne Berg (USA) and Cooper capturing the victory ahead of Charlie Jones (GBR) and Gerko III van de Zeilhoek. The win marked Berg’s first FEI win as well as her first grand prix win, made even more special by her home venue.

The technical course set by Germany’s Olaf Peterson Jr. challenged horse-and-rider combinations over 16 efforts with a triple combination (oxer-oxer-vertical) rolling back to the famous SRJT wall around to a triple bar on the rail. Kasey Ament (USA) and Dexter R (Namelus R x Contender), owned by Lornnah Investments, LLC, were the first pair to clear all of the fences, but their 90.35-second finish left them just a fraction over the time-allowed with one time fault. Soon after, Jones became the first to solve all questions on course with a clear round aboard Lindsay Maxwell’s Gerko III van de Zeilhoek (Arko III x Quidam de Revel). 

A jump-off was guaranteed not long after when Berg delivered the only other clear round with Berg Equestrian Enterprises LLC’s 14-year-old KWPN gelding Cooper (Viento Uno W x Voltaire). Jones had one last attempt with a second Maxwell-owned mount, Charismo Z (Cascadello x Carisma Z), clearing the fences once again while also matching Ament’s pace to finish on an identical time of 90.35 just short of the jump-off.

Jones and the 10-year-old KWPN gelding Gerko III van de Zeilhoek led the way across the jump-off track in a time of 49.47 seconds, but an unfortunate rail left the door open for Berg. The closing pair delivered despite also having a 4-fault effort, leaving a stride out to the final fence for a winning time of 48.99 seconds. Jones would settle for the remaining two podium positions, claiming second place with Gerko III van de Zeilhoek while tying with Ament and Dexter R for third place aboard Charismo Z.

Karrie Rufer and Stern dei Folletti. Photo by Winslow Photography

Karrie Rufer Claims One-Two Finish in $37,000 Restylane 1.45m Welcome CSI2*

Friday was highlighted by the $37,000 Restylane 1.45m FEI Welcome where Olaf Petersen Jr’s (GER) 16-effort course entertained a total of 44 starters from six different nations, but it was ultimately Karrie Rufer (USA) and her own Stern dei Folletti who claimed victory. 

Stern dei Folletti (Toulon x Caspar) is no stranger to the podium at the Sonoma International, finishing third in Thursday’s $10,000 1.40m Speed CSI2* with Rufer in addition to winning the 2020 $50,000 Restylane Grand Prix with previous rider, Mark Kinsella (IRL). 

“I’m naturally a very competitive person, but it definitely helps that there’s an atmosphere [at Split Rock shows] and usually a lot of friends or family are here as well so that helps me get even more competitive,” Rufer commented of her home venue.

Rufer also claimed second place on the podium aboard her longtime partner, Georgie D’Auvray EC, while Kaitlin Campbell (USA) and Ilan finished in third.