Bernie Traurig and The Cardinal finally made their presence known at the 1977 Washington International Horse Show at Capitol Centre yesterday afternoon.

Traurig, the 32-year-old Hiram, Ohio, professional and his 7-year-old bay outraced a field of 20 world class jumpers to win the Inverness Farm Challenge Trophy by 1.7 seconds over Mike Matz on Jet Run. Canada's Eaden Vale, ridden by Torchy Miller, was third in the timed jumper in 41.5 seconds.

The three had made it into the jumpoff along with Sombre, Idle Dice, Springer, Viscont and Sarto, all except Sarto going clean over the original 13-obstacle course. The latter had a refusal and a time fault, but its 3 1/2 faults moved it into the eight-horse jumpoff.

In the jumpoff, The Cardinal went second and covered the shortened eight-obstacle course cleaned in the time of 35.2 seconds, good enough for the victory. Jet Run and Matz, the United States Equestrian Team's hottest combination over the past two months, gave it a run but finished in 36.9.

Armand Leon on Sombfe had four faults to finish fourth; Rodney Jenkins, who had won the Inverness in 1974 with Number One Spy knocked down the fifth jump and had to settle for fifth with Idle Dice. Ian Millar of Canada with Springer. Buddy Brown of the USET with Viscount and Hendrik Schulze-Sichoff of Germany with Sarto rounded out of the scoring.

Traurig was the leading rider of the show here last year, winning twice with The Cardinal, including the prestigious Eisenhower Memorial. Traurig and the Cardinal also placed second to Ireland's Boomerang in The Inverness of 1976.

The green hunters began their competition during the morning with four different horses taking the four blues up for grabs among the working section. April Rullah and Anther Brother won the first-year classes while Wall Street Trader and Terra Cotta were tops among the second-year hunters.

The green conformation classes both fell to Early Light, a handsome 3-year-old chestnut gelding showing out of Keswick, Va. The Cismont Manor Trophy went with its win in the model class.

Highlights of tonight's program, which opens at 7:30, is the Puissance, the high-jumping contest which has become the glamour event of indoor horse shows. Three-time winner Idle Dice, along with the 1976 winner Texas, will go in the event. The evening opens with the Burling Challenge Trophy for the regular working hunters followed by the Tempel Lipizzans, the Courvoisier Arabian and a special retirement program for a champion show horse, Kim's Song.

Do Right highlighted Sunday night's show before a crowd of close to 9,000. Dennis Murphy took the 12-year-old gelding out first, covering the course in 44.8 second and then cooled off in the schooling area while 33 of the world's finest jumpers took aim at their time.

"Going first is never easy," said Murphy, the easy-going Alabamian who had great success at the Washington International. "The later riders have the advantage . . . they can see what the others have others have done.

"This course suited him. He's quick, makes sharp turns and likes the close runs between the fences."