Hardin Towell continued his grand prix successes with top performances in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping in Del Mar, California that culminated October 18.
The energy and excitement were palpable as spectators congregated in a full Del Mar Arena to watch some of show jumping's greatest stars tackle Heiko Wahlers' Longines FEI World Cup Show Jumping Del Mar course for a purse of $150,000.
There were 28 horse-and-rider combinations that tackled the imposing horse, and in the end it was USA No. 1 rider Beezie Madden aboard Simon who took the top prize, with Finally Farm's Hardin Towell taking an impressive second place aboard Lucifer V.
"Hardin had a great great show in Del Mar, and we're so proud of him," said sister Liza Towell Boyd. "First, he won the Wednesday Welcome class on New York and then he was second to Beezie in the World Cup class, which is really like a win since she's currently the No. 2 rider in the world!
"Our parents (Jack and Lisa Towell) went out to Del Mar the week before to cheer Hardin on," Liza added. "They enjoyed being out there and had fun. Hardin’s come a long way, and he commented to me afterward that he's really working on his body position and the small details of his riding. He's at that level where there’s no room for even the smallest mistakes. With all of the different medal finals going on now around the country, I thought his comment was especially meaningful. Even after your equitation days are over, even the most successful riders still work on their positions to be their most effective."
To read about Hardin's past equitation victory in the Washington International Equitation Classic Finals--and the springboard it created for other top show jumpers--please see the article "From Junior Riders to Show Jumping Superstars: Past WIHS Equitation Winners Share Their Memories" in The Plaid Horse magazine.
To show's press release documented more about Hardin's performance, including some valuable lessons he's learned and the strategy he chose for this class. Here are excerpts:
Against a field stacked with seasoned, international competitors, Beezie Madden reinforced her ranking as the USA’s No. 1 jumping athlete, and the world No. 2 in the Longines Rankings, by riding the fastest clear in an eight-man jump off for the $150,000 Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier at the Del Mar International (Calif.).
The stands in the indoor venue were packed as Madden strategically maneuvered the 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Simon (Mr. Blue x Polydox) to the win in 37.33 seconds, more than a second faster than Hardin Towell’s 38.75-second round with Lucifer V.
The solid, 13-obstacle track designed by Germany’s Heiko Wahlers presented multiple challenges to the horse-and-rider pairs that included optional striding and a very large triple combination. One of the biggest questions, according to the riders during the course walk, was the decision between six or seven strides from a double combination to a wide oxer over a liverpool. The decision to set a really big course stemmed from the many great riders featured in the class, Wahlers said.
“I thought [before my jump-off round] that Kent [Farrington] had already gone and [Richard] Spooner had already gone and had a rail, and knew I had Beezie behind me, but with Lucifer this year, too many times I’ve gone too fast and had the last jump down in several grand prix in Europe that I could’ve easily taken one more,” Hardin said. “My turns on him are not great, and I knew from the beginning that Beezie was definitely going to be able to go faster. Going to the last jump, I saw one less [stride] and then I thought, ‘You know what, I’m probably going to gallop down there, knock it down, and I would’ve still been slower than Beezie.'
“So, I decided to take one more [stride], and Beezie beat me," Hardin added. "But I’ve been the bridesmaid a lot in the past couple months, so it is what it is. But having Beezie behind me, you can only do so much, and I was thrilled with my horse. He’s really improved in the past two years, and even in the past year. This was his first World Cup last year, and I hope next year that he’ll have a bright future ahead of him.”
1. Simon (Beezie Madden), USA, 0 faults/37.33 seconds (JO);
2. Lucifer V (Jack “Hardin” Towell), USA, 0/38.75 (JO);
3. Nikh Quanto (Christian Heineking), GER, 0/40.80 (JO);
Hardin did enjoy a victory at Del Mar when he guided New York Win to the blue ribbon in the $33,000 Welcome Grand Prix, presented by Trelawny Farm.
Excerpts from the show's press release:
The Welcome class set the stage on the show's opening day as 53 elite equestrian athletes including Georgina Bloomberg, Quentin Judge, Jack Hardin Towell, Eduardo Menezes, Nayal Nassar, Kent Farrington, Lauren Hough, Karl Cook, Eric Navet, Beezie Madden, Mandy Porter, Ray Texel, Richard Spooner, and Samuel Parot tackled renowned German course designer Heiko Wahlers' first Grand Prix of the week.
Eleven riders made it to the jump-off, and four went clear, but it was Jack Hardin Towell who expertly navigated the shortened course aboard New York and emerged victorious. Towell's time was a blistering 37.04 seconds, with Kirsten Coe on California 62 following close on his heels to finish second in a time of 38.12. Third place went to Cornet 39 with Lauren Hough in the irons and a jump-off time of 38.66, and our fourth-place finisher was Richard Spooner riding the aptly named Mighty Mouse who came in clean at 40.12 seconds.
Finally Farm horses and riders also enjoyed success the same week while attending the Tryon Fall 5 Horse Show in North Carolina, where there were ample championships and reserve ribbons collected under the watchful eyes of trainers Liza and Jack.
This week Finally Farm will divide and conquer, with Hardin traveling to the East Coast to meet Liza at the Washington International Horse Show to train and show, while Jack remains in Tryon for the Fall 6 show. Best of luck to all of our clients and friends competing at these two competitions.
A special congratulations to Zola Thompson on the recent purchase of the Medium Pony Elegance, the Reserve Champion at the Pennsylvania National. We look forward to working with you as you develop a partnership with this special pony!