The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) began its second week of competition, sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance, on Wednesday, January 18, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. Kicking off the week's competition in the International Arena, Hardin Towell (USA) rode Evergate Stable's Cadence to victory in the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m speed class.
Ana Catalina Harris Cruz (MEX) was the course designer in the International Arena for WEF 2. Cruz began the week with 25 entries in the 1.45m class and seven clear rounds. Towell and Cadence clocked the winning time of 55.11 seconds. Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) and Gochman Sport Horses' Sibell BH finished second in 55.48 seconds, and Conor Swail (IRL) aboard Blue Hill Farm's Quibelle placed third in 57.83 seconds.
Towell rode Cadence in the morning's speed class to prepare the horse for his owner, Jennifer Gates, to show later in the week. The 16-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Cardento x Irco Marco 662) will compete with Gates in the Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series this winter, which begins with its first event on Sunday.
"Jen had not shown for a little bit because she was studying abroad, so Cadence had some time off, and then we just brought him back," Towell explained. "I showed him last week and he feels great. He likes being down here. He is happy here, and he knows the routine. He feels the best he has ever felt, so hopefully she will have a good season on him."
Speaking about his winning round on Wednesday, Towell stated, "It was a nice first day track. The Under 25 on Sunday is a speed class, so I wanted to go a little bit so he would be ready for Jen. It was nice because he was really smooth. He has such a big stride and he turns so well that I actually felt like I had a nice, efficient round, but did not have to go too fast."
Towell has a busy circuit ahead, with many horses to show for Gates, as well as a full schedule training his star pupil.
Towell's preparation was right on target, as Gates placed fifth in a field of 66 in the FEI $25,000 Hollow Creek Farm U25 Grand Prix aboard Cadence. Gates also took eighth place aboard Luftikus S in the FEI $6,000 1.40m out of 108 entries.
Special thanks to Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for the press release.