Edited Press Release
June 25, 2022 – San Juan Capistrano, CA –Karrie Rufer rode Stern Dei Folletti to the win in Saturday afternoon’s $25,000 Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel Grand Prix, held during the June Classic III at Blenheim EquiSports in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
Rufer and the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding were one of 26 entries to take to the Oaks International Grand Prix field to tackle the first-round course, and the pair was one of seven combinations to qualify for the jump-off.
When Rufer and Stern Dei Folletti returned to the ring, the time to beat had been set at a quick 36.659 seconds by Bruno Diniz Das Neves and Adele XIII, but Rufer paid little attention to his time.
“I usually try to look at jump-offs like a challenge to myself and how efficient I can be and how fast I can be,” explained Rufer. “If we turn out to be the fastest that’s great, and if not, good for the other person. I unfortunately didn’t get to watch [Bruno] go. I saw the time, but I didn’t have much of a reference, so I just jumped the first wall and went off running. I think if you measure your success by what you expect of the horse, what you expect of yourself, and how you measure up to that, it’s the best way to go into a jump-off.”
Stern Dei Folletti certainly measured up to Rufer’s expectations on Saturday, as the duo crossed the timers in a winning 35.987 seconds, cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd.
Adele XIII, owned by BDN Horse Investments, and Diniz Das Neves’ result held up for second place, as they were the only other entry able to produce a double-clear effort. Third place with four faults in a time of 37.031 seconds went to Keri Potter and Ariell La Sirene.
The class was also run as a concurrent Under-25 Classic, with the U25 victory awarded to Mitch Endicott riding Chaccrobat, owned by Bridgeport Farms LLC.
For the grand prix win, Rufer was awarded a Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel gift bag, a two-night stay in one of the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel’s stunning ocean view guest rooms, a Blenheim EquiSports coolerette, a $50 Top Line Design Ribbon Wreaths gift certificate, a Shady Lady face covering, an $80 gift certificate to Riderzon, and riding gloves from American Equus.
“[Stern Dei Folletti] is amazing,” said Rufer of the gelding owned by her Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC. “I bought him as a 6-year-old, so to see him come along and turn into a really legitimate grand prix horse is exciting. I’m just really excited for his future, and I’m very proud of him. He’s at the point where now we go into jump-offs, he’s so brave and so game, and he knows the job. He knows what questions to answer, so I’m really happy with him.”
Rufer continued, “I loved [the course]. It was tricky. There were a lot of questions. You had to have a lot of adjustability within your horse.”
Soberon designed the courses in the Oaks International Grand Prix Field throughout the week, including for another featured class of the week, Thursday’s $10,000 Markel Insurance 1.35m Open Jumper Classic. There it was Hannah Loly aboard Bisou who earned the win, marking the second big win in a row for Loly and the mare owned by Tres Palomas.
For the victory, Loly was presented with an $80 gift certificate to Riderzon and a Blenheim EquiSports tack room pillow.
The course was set by renowned designer Oscar Soberon who voiced similar thoughts on his track and the results it produced.
“I try to test the riders with different questions throughout the course, some a little steady stride, some with some different options, but I’m always wanting a good experience for the young horse and newer riders while still a challenging track also for the more experienced ones,” explained Soberon. “I thought seven clear rounds was a good result. We had a lot of four faulters; jumps were down almost everywhere during the course. I’m pleased with it.”