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.’”
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.”
$8,800 CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
- Vertige de Galarzacs / Karrie Rufer / USA / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 0/0 42.17
- Howard du Seigneur / James Chawke / IRL / Ramsay Equestrian, Inc. / 0/0 42.44
- Camalita / Nicole Haunert / USA / Blue Gate Stables, LLC / 0/0 42.91
- Peninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak / CAN / Samara Heinrichs Prak / 0/0 43.21
- Kadans van de Mispelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / Brother Fortune Equestrian / 0/0 45.09
- Casturano / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Meredith Ellis / CAN / 0/0 48.47
- Messi 10 / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 0/4 46.22
- Chap II / Meredith Ellis / CAN / Meredith Ellis / 8 47.38
- Coffee to Go / Kyle King / USA / Spruce Meadows Ltd / 0/18 55.38
- Cato Minor J / Maddy Riddle / CAN / Maddy Riddle / 0/29 74.41