Summer Fort Welcome Kicks Off Three-Star Double at Thunderbird Show Park

Langley, BC – Two consecutive weeks of international three-star competition highlight the August series at Thunderbird Show Park, as 43 horses jogged for inspection Tuesday for the CSI3* Summer Fort Welcome.

Nineteen athletes will represent the home nation, led by two-time Olympian Tiffany Foster. Based out of a new facility just a stone’s throw from tbird, Foster will bring forward rising stars Battlecry and Electrique, along with veteran Brighton. A 17-year-old KWPN gelding, Brighton boasts 27 FEI victories on his decorated record. Nine-year-olds Battlecry and Electrique, meanwhile are coming off of impressive wins at Spruce Meadows. Battlecry topped the 1.55m CSI5* Jayman BUILT Cup, while Electrique was best in the CSI5* 1.50m Scotiabank Cup.

Shauna Cook (CAN) will return to tbird with three mounts, including Caya, with whom she won the CSI3* Steel-Craft Doors Cup at last year’s Summer Fort Welcome. Kassidy Keith (CAN) is also back in the lineup with Havana; Keith claimed the MarBill Hill U25 Series title at tbird in each of the last two years.

Jaehee Jeon (KOR) claimed his first Grand Prix victory at July’s Western Family show, and he will come forward for three-star competition with his top mount, Kadans van de Mispelaere.

The U.S.’s Karrie Rufer finished both first and second in last week’s National Grand Prix in Portland, OR (USA) with Stern dei Foletti and Mr. Europe, respectively. She arrived at tbird to present both horses.

Jaclyn Duff and Eblesse were named the best-dressed horse and jogger combination, receiving a $100 gift card. Photo ©tbird/Kim Gaudry

Competition at the Summer Fort Welcome kicks off Wednesday with the CSI3* tbird Speed.

All classes in the Fort Grand Prix Arena stream live daily on

Tickets are available for Saturday’s $15,000 CSI3* Uyradis Village Winning Round and Sunday’s $50,000 CSI3* The Keg Grand Prix at

Three-Week FEI Circuit Comes to a Climax at Summer Fort Festival CSI2*

Langley, BC — Thunderbird Show Park’s three-week FEI circuit comes to a climax this week at the CSI2* Summer Fort Festival, showcasing both veterans and exciting young talent.

Thirty-eight horses representing 29 FEI athletes jogged for inspection Tuesday at tbird. International competition begins Wednesday, Aug. 24 in the Fort Grand Prix Arena with the CSI2* tbird Speed 1.40m. The week’s feature is the CSI2* Paladin Risk Solutions Grand Prix 1.45m, set for Sunday, Aug. 28.

Kyle King (USA) will saddle up for a third straight week after topping the CSI3* ONNI Grand Prix at the Summer Fort Welcome. He’ll bring forward a trio of mounts, including veteran Coffee to Go, rising talent SIG Chiari and the versatile Ittolo, who contested U25 competition at last week’s Summer Fort Classic with King’s student, Jarne Franken (USA).

The always competitive Robert Blanchette (IRL) returns with the ultra quick mare Chardonnay after finishing third in the CSI3* ATCO Cup Grand Prix at the Summer Fort Classic. Blanchette will also compete aboard 8-year-old Carnlea Premier Balou.

Nineteen-year-old Brooke Morin (USA) impressed at the Summer Fort Classic with her win aboard NKH Carrido in the CSI3* Uryadi’s Village Cup 1.50m. She and “Cory” are back this week training under King.

Fellow youth talent Emily Fitzgerald (CAN) and Stella Chernoff (CAN) will step up to the senior FEI level after having success in the U25 division at the Summer Fort Classic. These riders took up the top two placings, respecitvely, in the MarBill Hill U25 Grand Prix 1.40m; Fitzgerald also won the division’s speed contest last week aboard her own Pasquinelle. It will be Fitzgerald’s second career senior FEI show after contesting the CSI2* BCHJA Fall Finale at tbird in 2021, which was held on a sand surface in the Thunderbird Jumper Arena.

“[Pasquinelle] seems to really be liking the grass these days,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m excited.”

Click here to view the rider list.

The international schedule will conclude Sunday, Aug. 28 with the CSI2* Paladin Risk Solutions Grand Prix at 2:00 pm PT. Tickets are on sale now at

Featured Classes

Wednesday, August 24

  • CSI2* tbird Speed 1.40m

Thursday, August 25

  • MarBill Hill Farm U25 League 1.35m

Friday, August 26

  • CSI3* tbird 1.45m

Saturday, August 27

  • MarBill Hill Farm U25 1.40m

Sunday, August 28

  • MarBill Hill U25 Grand Prix 1.40m
  • CSI2* Paladin Risk Solutions Grand Prix 1.45m

Catch all the action from the Fort Grand Prix Arena live on tbird TV.

Sampson Fires Again in Maui Jim Grand Prix

Matthew Sampson (GBR) recorded his sixth win of the Summer Fort Welcome in the Maui Jim Grand Prix 1.40m, the national standard feature of the week at tbird.

Those wins came with a remarkable four different horses. Elisa BJX was one of two horses to record multiple victories. In the Maui Jim Grand Prix, the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare bested a 10-horse jump-off—by nearly three seconds.

The winning time over Peter Holmes’ 1.40m track was 36.71 seconds. Kyle King (USA) and Indezz V finished second (39.5 seconds), with Zume Gallaher (USA) and Edita third (40.59).

“I think probably my draw [helped me],” said Sampson. “I was second to go [in the jump-off], and I knew there were some fast horses to come. I just tried to go as fast as I could. I know [Elisa BJX] is very fast also and helps me a lot. A couple [competitors after us] went really fast and had a fence down. It just played in our favor.”

Sampson and Elisa BJX have been partnered for only a short time, jumping their first classes at Spruce Meadows in June. The mare is owned by prominent Mexican owner, Salvador Onate, who also owns Evora BJX, who won the Diamond Valley Ranch U10 Young Horses stake Saturday at tbird.

“I rode some young horses for him and an older horse last year, and it’s just continued,” Sampson said. “It’s been super. The horses have had a great weekend.”

Matthew Sampson (GBR) and Elisa BJX stand for the winner’s presentation. ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$10,000 Maui Jim Grand Prix 1.40m

  1. Elisa BJX / Matthew Sampson / GBR / Matthew Sampson / 0/0 36.71
  2. Indezz V / Kyle King / USA / Strasburg Morin Inc. / 0/0 39.5
  3. Edita / Zume Gallaher / USA / Blue Gate Stables, LLC / 0/0 40.59
  4. Calacas D Aubigny / Kara Chad / CAN / Kara Chad / 0/4 39
  5. Concolue / Nicole Haunert / USA / Cherokee Show Horses Inc. / 9/4 42
  6. Van Tao RCG / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/4 47.75
  7. Chief / Ella McCaw / USA / Highland Stables, LLC / 0/8 47.15
  8. Face to Face / Dylan Munro / CAN / Jonathan Asselin / 0/8 55.7
  9. Indigo van de Muggenhoek / Zume Gallaher / USA / Blue Gate Stables, LLC 2 87.63
  10. Havana / Kassidy Keith / CAN / Cheryl Keith / 4 78.04

King Defends Home Turf in CSI3* ONNI Grand Prix 1.50m

Heading into the CSI3* ONNI Grand Prix, Kyle King (USA) found himself playing the role of the bridesmaid.

In the CSI3* tbird Speed 1.45m, he finished third to Matthew Sampson (GBR). In the Maui Jim Grand Prix (national standard), he finished second to Sampson. After 13 of 14 horses jumped off in the CSI3* ONNI Grand Prix, Sampson was leading.

King was last to jump, and he gave Peter Holmes’ shortened track his all. He and Christine Maclean’s Etalon flew through the timers more than a second faster than his competitor to claim the win in the feature event of the CSI3* Summer Fort Welcome.

Kyle King and Etalon. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

The winning time was 40.90 seconds. Sampson settled for second with Ebolensky (41.98 seconds), with Kara Chad (CAN) and Quidamo F third (42.44)

I saw Matt go, and you know, I’ve been watching Matt. He’s just been kicking my butt every time, and I kind of consider this my home field, so I was getting a little [upset] about it,” King said.

King, who bases his business locally in Langley, defended his home turf in an exceptionally quick jump-off that saw 14 horses navigate a clear first round over Holmes’ course. As the jump-off became increasingly quick, King saw his opportunity to win between the first and last two fences.

“I saw that [Sampson] was a little bit slow from [fences] one to two,” he said. “I got the same numbers on the rollbacks, and then maybe I was a little quicker to the last jump. I pulled on the reins a little later.”

It was meaningful for King to earn the win with Etalon, a horse with whom he’s been partnered for more than four seasons. The chestnut has been a pleasant surprise for his owner, who originally imported him to be a hunter. Maclean purchased Etalon off a video and was told he’d be best suited for heights up to 3’6” (1.10m), but she was quickly proven otherwise.

“I bought him, and he was a little more horse than I needed,” Maclean said. “He jumped me off, and then he jumped another professional off, and so that professional asked Kyle if he would take him on, and it was a match made in heaven.”

According to JUMPR App, King and Etalon finish in the top 10 61% of the time when competing at 1.50m.

“He’s just a dude,” King said. “He’s been a longtime partner of mine now, and he’s very brave, so I can put good angles [on the jumps], I can roll back pretty tight, and he can wide open gallop. I can really count on him.”

Kyle King and Etalon stand for the winner’s presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$100,000 CSI3* ONNI Grand Prix 1.50m

  1. Etalon / Kyle King / USA / Christine Maclean / 0/0 40.09
  2. Ebolensky / Matthew Sampson / GBR / Matthew Sampson / 0/0 41.98
  3. Quidamo F / Kara Chad / CAN / Kara Chad / 0/42.44
  4. Stern Dei Foletti / Karrie Rufer / Morningstar Sport Horses LLC / 0/0 42.44
  5. Catinka 25 / Vanessa Manix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0/0 42.78
  6. Armik / Capt. Brian Cournane / USA / Capt. Brian Cournane / 0/0 42.8
  7. Grandeur WP / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms, LLC / 0/0 46.23
  8. Clockwise of Greenwhill Z / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 0/0 46.49
  9. Milton / James Brennan / IRL / Crooks Show Jumping / 0/0 49.56
  10. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/0 50.04

Cook and Caya Sparkle in CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m

Shauna Cook is grateful that she listened to her mother.

After all, when she first tried the Hanoverian mare Caya in Germany, she wasn’t convinced the mare was the right match. But her mom, Sheilagh Kelly was, and she was right.

Cook and Caya topped the CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m Saturday at Thunderbird Show Park, just the second 1.45m competition of the horse’s young career.

James Chawke (IRL) and Howard du Seigneur finished second (47.57 seconds), with Nicole Haunert (USA) and Camalita third (48.51).

“This is my mother’s horse, and she’s the one that picked the horse,” Cook said. “I tried the horse and said, ‘Don’t buy it,’ and my mom called and was like, ‘We’ve booked a vetting and the flight [home] and the horse is coming.’ So, we decided the take the horse.”

What convinced Kelly?

“[Shauna] said [Caya] was a diamond in the rough, and she’s grey,” she said.

Five years later, Caya is beginning to sparkle. Cook and the 9-year-old mare jumped one of just three clear first rounds over Peter Holmes’ sizeable and technical 1.45m track. However, in a winning round format, the top 10 combinations return for a shortened course, all with a blank slate. Chawke took full advantage of that opportunity, galloping into the lead with the promising 9-year-old stallion, Howard du Seigneur, after having a rail in the first round.

That gave Cook a target, and she and Caya managed to move ahead, thanks in part to their efforts up the first line, in which they did one less stride than the runners-up.

“I didn’t count [there]. I just went,” Cook said. “She’s really fast, and I just went for it at the beginning so I could give her a little time at the double and at the end [of the course].”

According to JUMPR App, Cook and Caya are jumping clear at a rate of 38% in 2022. Cook no longer has any reservations about her horse. In fact, she wants more like her. She’s bred Caya via embryo transfer to her stallion, Gallup.

“Thank goodness our mothers know best,” she said.

Shauna Cook and Caya stand for the winner’s presentation with tbird President Chris Pack and tbird CEO Jane Tidball. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$15,000 CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m

  1. Caya / Shauna Cook / CAN / Sheilagh Kelly / 0/0 47.04
  2. Howard du Seigneur / James Chawke / IRL /Ramsay Equestrian / 4/0 47.57
  3. Camalita / Nicole Haunert / USA / Blue Gate Stables, LLC / 0/0 48.51
  4. Penninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak / CAN / Samara Heinrichs Prak / 4/0 48.53
  5. Crown Royal / Hayley Mercer / CAN / Hayley Mercer / 4/0 52.02
  6. Kadans van de Mispelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / Brother Fortune Equestrian0/0 53.74
  7. Castros / Meredith Ellis / CAN / Meredith Ellis / 4/4 53.61
  8. Pesgo Adelheid Z / Alicia Gadban-Lewis / CAN / Alicia Gadban-Lewis/ 7/4 55.58
  9. Idalgo / Guillermo Obligado / ARG / Woodgrove Farm / 2/8 56.31
  10. Londons de Muze / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 4/13 62.83

Riddle Runs Away with Emily Sandhack Equestrian Realtor 1.35m

Maddy Riddle (CAN) has only been partnered with Fair Katie VDH for a few months, but you wouldn’t know it watching them. The pair won their second international class of the week in the CSI3* Emily Sandhack Equestrian Realtor 1.35m.

Riddle and Brian Wander Helm’s 12-year-old mare were the only combination to produce a double-clear effort over Peter Holmes’ course. First to return over the shortened track, Riddle relied on her mare’s natural footspeed to put the pressure on the pair behind them, Bretton Chad (CAN) and Zirkana Adelheid Z. She accomplished that mission, as Chad and her mount put four faults on their scorecard when chasing the leading pace.

The winning time was 49.5 seconds. Chad and Zirkana Adelheid Z finished second with four faults (48.88 seconds), and Gareth Graves (CAN) took third as the fastest four-faulter of the first round with Cassius Z (85.79).

“The mare is naturally fast. So for me, [the focus was] just to try to jump clear and be efficient in my lines,” Riddle said. “I didn’t want to do anything too tight or too crazy. I just knew I wanted to, first of all, be clear, and then to just be as fast as possible to make [Chad] have to work to chase me.”

Riddle began leasing “Katie” in the fall, and they jumped their first international classes at Spruce Meadows in July. Their first FEI win came in Wednesday’s CSI3* Two Phase 1.35m, and they quickly added to the tally. According to JUMPR App, the pair finishes in the top 10 67% of the time.

“She is the quintessential chestnut mare, and it has to be her way,” Riddle said. “But really, in the last two to three months, I felt like I really clicked with her—at Spruce Meadows actually—and now it’s just been a blast every day in the ring.

“She’s such an incredible horse, and she wants to win more than I do, honestly.”

Maddy Riddle (CAN) and Fair Katie VDH. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$2,500 CSI3* Emily Sandhack Equestrian Realtor 1.35m

  1. Fair Katie VDH / Maddy Riddle / CAN / Brian Wander Helm / 0/0 49.5
  2. Zirkana Adelheid Z / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms / 0/4 48.88
  3. Cassius Z / Gareth Graves / CAN / Jillian Halina / 4 85.79
  4. Cameron Diaz 5 / Guillermo Obligado / Milberry Farm, LLC / 5 86.83
  5. Congress de la Charmille Z / Kimberly Wallace / CAN / Kimberly Wallace / 6 87.89
  6. WH Contiago / Madison Sproule / USA / Madison Sproule / 54 131.95

A Gallop Gets the Win for Jaimie Ackerman and Driek in CSI3* tbird 1.35m

Clear rounds were hard to come by in the CSI3* tbird 1.35m. Jaimie Ackerman (CAN) and Driek posted the only double-clear performance to take the win, crossing the timers of Peter Holmes’ shortened track in 41.22 seconds.

Bretton Chad (CAN) and Zirkana Adelheid Z finished second as the only other combination to make the jump-off; they pulled a rail at the final fence (40.65 seconds). Gareth Graves (CAN) and Cassius Z finished third with a single time fault in the first round.

“I think that there were points [on course] where you were kind of galloping across the field, so you could really open up, and then points where you kind of had to pull it back together,” Ackerman said.

“We kind of went for the more forward gallop, and it really worked out for us today.”

Ackerman and Driek have been partnered for three years, and the 14-year-old gelding has brought Ackerman to her first international classes. Based out of Vancouver, she trains with Lisa Carlsen and Dayton Gorsline out of Alberta.

“[Driek] is the first horse I’ve ever done FEI [classes] on,” she said. “Last year was my first FEI event ever at this horse show, so I just love the whole experience, and I’m learning as I go.”

Jaimie Ackerman (CAN) and Driek. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$1,500 CSI3* tbird 1.35m

  1. Driek / Jaimie Ackerman / CAN / Jamie Ackerman / 0/0 41.22
  2. Zirkana Adelheid Z / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms / 0/4 40.65
  3. Cassius Z / Gareth Graves / CAN / Jillian Halina / 1 71.4
  4. Cameron Diaz 5 / Guillermo Obligado / Milberry Farm, LLC / 4 68.94
  5. Congress de la Charmille Z / Kimberly Wallace / CAN / Kimberly Wallace / 6 72.82
  6. Fair Katie VDH / Maddy Riddle / CAN / Brian Wander Helm / 8 67.56
  7. Quidamo F / Kara Chad / CAN / Kara Chad / 7 78.08
  8. WH Contiago / Madison Sproule / USA / Madison Sproule / 38 100.77

Sampson Starts a Streak in Steel-Craft Doors Cup 1.50m

Matthew Sampson (GBR) did not take long to start a winning streak at Thunderbird Show Park. In his first trip to Langley, he won his second international competition in the span of three days Friday, topping an eight-horse jump-off in the CSI3* Steel-Craft Doors Cup with Ebolensky.

It was a comfortable victory, both in appearance and as indicated by the clock. The pair posted a winning time of 37.86 seconds. Karrie Rufer (USA) and Stern dei Foletti came closest (38.33 seconds), with Vanessa Mannix (CAN) and Catinka 25 third (39.8).

“Ebolensky has such a big stride,” Sampson said. “I just tried to keep it smooth and hope it was enough. I didn’t want to go crazy, because she’s going to jump the [CSI3* ONNI] Grand Prix on Sunday.”

Peter Holmes’ (CAN) 1.50m track flowed rhythmically around the expansive Fort Grand Prix arena, and the 21-strong field bounded across the pristine grass surface, with nine producing a clear first round effort. When Jamie Gornall (GBR) elected not to return for the short course, it shrunk the jump-off field slightly to eight, and Mannix set the tone as the first rider to return. Sampson and Ebolensky, however, created separation with a most expedient turn back to the vertical at Jump 7 and a bold gallop to the penultimate line, for which he didn’t take a pull at the reins.

“She’s an amazing horse,” Sampson said. “It makes my life so much easier.”

Matthew Sampson (GBR) and Ebolensky. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

Sampson and Ebolensky, whom Sampson owns in partnership with the Evinson family, have had a successful summer, having also won the CSI5* AKITA Drilling Winning Round at Spruce Meadows in July. The pair jumps clear 63% of the time at 1.50m, according to JUMPR App. Sampson has had the now 13-year-old mare since she was just seven.

“She’s a strong character. She knows what she wants,” Sampson said. “I kind of just go with her. She’s a little bit fussy in the mouth sometimes, but the more you try to correct her, the more she’s like, ‘Leave me alone. I’m going to jump anyway!’”

Simple is best for Ebolensky, who goes in minimal tack. She wears no martingale and prefers a soft bit.

“She’s just good. I’m very lucky to have her,” Sampson said.

Matthew Sampson (GBR) and Ebolensky stand for the winner’s presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$37,200 CSI3* Steel-Craft Doors Cup 1.50m

  1. Ebolensky / Matthew Sampson / GBR / Matthew Sampson / 0/0 37.86
  2. Stern dei Foletti / Karrie Rufer / USA / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 0/0 38.33
  3. Catinka 25 / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0/0 39.8
  4. Clockwise of Greenhill Z / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 0/0 39.81
  5. Chic D Emma Z / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / 0/0 43.19
  6. Sea Plus / Capt Brian Cournane / USA / Capt. Brian Cournane / 0/0 43.93
  7. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/4 42.71
  8. Castlefield Dream / Julian Cournane / IRL / 0/8 37.5
  9. Chacco’s Fleur PS / Jamie Gornall / GBR /Jamie Gornall / 0/WD
  10. Gamble / Conor Swail / IRL / Asta Torokvei / 4 74.53

Bourgeois Dominates Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby

No rider was busier in the Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby than Nicole Bourgeois. The Sherwood, OR based professional brought five entries forward to the class and ultimately claimed four of the top five placings. That included the victory, which came aboard Hilary Sonse’s 9-year-old gelding Wayfinder.

The pair received scores of 91 and 92 over the course of the two rounds for a 183 winning total. Dustin Goodwin and Dolce’ Dacapo finished just behind them with a 182 total, with Bourgeois and Duck Duck Goose third (176.5).

“[All five] are very seasoned derby horses, so I’m very lucky,” Bourgeois said. “I’ve had most of them for many years, and we’ve done quite a few derbies at this point, so I feel pretty confident on all of them. Dustin was on a 6-year-old, and I’m on 9, 10, 14 and 19-year-olds. I’m very lucky.”

Partnership certainly played a role in the class, which featured a course that spanned two Thunderbird Show Park arenas. The top two pairs separated themselves from the field after the first round, with Goodwin and Dolce’ Dacapo leading after the classic round with a score of 92, a point ahead of Bourgeois and Wayfinder. But Bourgeois got the upper hand in the second round, and a two-point advantage in the handy round ultimately earned her the victory—her second in two weeks, after topping the USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Split Rock Hunter Jumper Tour in Portland, OR (USA) last Saturday.

“In the handy, I thought any of [my horses] could have won,” Bourgeois. “Wayfinder is definitely a ‘10’ jumper and is probably the most handy of them in that fact that he’s a little bit smaller. We just came off of a win last week, so were riding that high.”

Wayfinder also doubles in the Amateur-Owner hunter divisions with his owner, but Bourgeois has primarily enjoyed the ride while Sonse was pregnant and delivered a son less than two months ago.

“She may come up here in a couple weeks,” Bourgeois said. “I get him to myself for the next week or two, but hopefully she comes up and shows in the Amateur Owners.”

Nicole Bourgeois and Wayfinder stand for the winner’s presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$5,000 Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Score

  1. Wayfinder / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Hilary Sosne / 183
  2. Dolce’ Dacapo / Dustin Goodwin / CAN / Jordan Pierson / 182
  3. Duck Duck Goose / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Amy Bean / 176.5
  4. Mc Queen / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Barbara Lovre / 176
  5. Tic Tac Toe / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Amy Bean / 173
  6. Darwin / Quinn Partridge / USA / Gillian Baird / 170.5
  7. Cheers! / Dustin Goodwin / CAN / Elizabeth Boylan / 170
  8. Jembey van’t Eigenlo / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Christine Maclean / 167.5
  9. Gabriel IV / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Donna Rooney / 162
  10. Jumping Jack Flash Z / Jenny Graham / CAN / Jenny Graham / 153.5

Rufer Has Winning Reunion in CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m

As of a week ago, Karrie Rufer (USA) hadn’t shown Vertige de Galarzacs in nearly two years.

Thursday at Thunderbird Show Park, she realized the time apart may have done the partnership some good. The duo bested a 10-horse jump-off to win the CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m.

They crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) shortened 1.40m track in an uncatchable 42.17-second time. James Chawke (IRL) and Howard du Seigneur finished just a few ticks of the clock behind in second (42.44 seconds), with Nicole Haunert (USA) and Camalita third (42.91 seconds).

“He’s got a big step, and he has the most scope of any horse in my barn,” Rufer said. “So, you know if you do the big [classes], you never have to really worry about where you’re putting him [at the jumps]. But he was really rideable today and just super brave.”

The tone for the jump-off was set up the track’s firs line, which walked in eight strides but offered the option to do one less if the line was jumped in with pace. Knowing the large stride she had at her disposal, she went for the lesser number, executed, and carried that rhythm throughout the remainder of the fences.

“As Kyle King was coming out of the ring, I was like, ‘What do you think about seven?’ He said, ‘It’s simple. Just do it,’” Rufer said. “So, I walked in and just kind of hooked it from [fence] one on. And [Vertige de Galarzacs] was just ready to go and just be really careful.”

Rufer acquired the big bay known as “Vince” at the end of 2019, and while the partnership started strongly, things stalled when the global pandemic slowed competition down worldwide. She decided to sell the horse and placed the gelding in the hands of Irish riders Darragh Kenny and Michael G Duffy. When Rufer’s fiancé Kevin Winkel was missing a top horse, Rufer shared the mount with him—until a recent injury took Winkel out of the saddle.

“They’ve been getting along great. [Kevin] has done a beautiful job with him,” Rufer said. “He’s way more rideable than when he was when I was when I started two years ago. Kevin’s like, ‘Are you going to take him back?’ I said, ‘No, I’m just keeping him fit.’”

Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

Rufer is keeping busy with nine horses onsite at tbird. With Winkel out a few more weeks, Rufer’s goal for Vince is stay in form for her fiance’s return, when the plan will be to contest the fall World Cup circuit together as husband and wife.

“Hopefully [Kevin] will come back, and they’ll won’t have missed a beat,” she said. “[Vince] has been great. He’s an awesome horse.”

Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$8,800 CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

  1. Vertige de Galarzacs / Karrie Rufer / USA / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 0/0 42.17
  2. Howard du Seigneur / James Chawke / IRL / Ramsay Equestrian, Inc. / 0/0 42.44
  3. Camalita / Nicole Haunert / USA / Blue Gate Stables, LLC / 0/0 42.91
  4. Peninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak / CAN / Samara Heinrichs Prak / 0/0 43.21
  5. Kadans van de Mispelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / Brother Fortune Equestrian / 0/0 45.09
  6. Casturano / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Meredith Ellis / CAN / 0/0 48.47
  7. Messi 10 / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 0/4 46.22
  8. Chap II / Meredith Ellis / CAN / Meredith Ellis / 8 47.38
  9. Coffee to Go / Kyle King / USA / Spruce Meadows Ltd / 0/18 55.38
  10. Cato Minor J / Maddy Riddle / CAN / Maddy Riddle / 0/29 74.41