World of Showjumping
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Gregory Wathelet scores back-to-back wins in Grand Prix action

Sunday, 18 February 2024
CSI3* Desert International Horse Park 2024

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Stern Dei Folletti. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.


Press release from Desert International Horse Park



Gregory Wathelet (BEL) had a great day on the grass field on Saturday of Desert Circuit 6, presented by IDA Development and Barnwalkers, as did Karrie Rufer, who sat on the sidelines and watched both her horses win.

Rufer, who runs Morning Star Sporthorses, has an impressive string of show jumpers and has meticulously passed along the rides while she and Kevin Winkel await their first child. Wathelet was fortunate to get the reins on Stern Dei Folletti and Mr. Europe, each of whom won a grand prix Saturday.

In the $117,000 IDA Development CSI3* Grand Prix, it was Stern Dei Folletti’s turn to play. Wathelet was one of seven to jump Peter Holmes’ course fault free, and ultimately one of only three double-clear efforts. He was the quickest by a comfortable margin, but Kyle King (USA) grabbed second place with SIG Chiari, owned by SIG International, and Ali Ramsay (CAN) took third with Conrado 12, owned by Ramsay Equestrian Inc.

“The first time I rode him was a few weeks ago and it’s a bit of a funny horse,” Wathelet said of Stern Dei Folletti, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Toulon x Berlin). “He has a bit his own style and when I did our first 1.35m he gives you an okay feeling but you don’t expect he’s going to jump this kind of class so easily. You realize quite quickly that he has a really good mind and is a real fighter and super careful.”

Rufer has taken some impressive wins on “Stan” before, so Wathelet knew he was sitting on a winner, but, as all riders do, he needed to bond with him before he started producing results. “I needed to get to know him a bit because I was riding him more like I needed to help him to get over the jump,” he explained. “But now I don’t have to help him anymore, I just trust his scope. Two weeks ago he was quite good, second in a big class the first day, and I got a really good feeling. And this weekend was even better. Today I had a good feeling and he really tried.”

Stan is an unassuming little horse, with a short build and endless scope. “I also realized about him that he’s so quick and has a huge stride,” Wathelet said of what he’s learned as he’s continued getting to know the horse. “When you are in the ring and start to open the gear he has a massive stride. I just have to be careful I don’t override the jumps.”

Wathelet and another of Rufer’s mounts, Mr. Europe, also took a win in the $40,000 Antares Sellier National Grand Prix, making it two grand prix wins in one day for the Belgian World Champion.


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