Hardin Towell of Camden, SC, and Cadence, owned by Jennifer Gates, LLC, found themselves atop the leaderboard in the $8,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m, besting a class of 34 in the early morning as the second week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) commenced at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Week two of the Winter Equestrian Festival continues through Sunday, January 24, and is sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance. The week will feature several major classes including the $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI 2* on Saturday, January 23, and the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Equine Couture/TuffRider on Sunday, January 24.
Towell and Cadence made the most of the first speed class of the day, finishing in 70.711 seconds for the win. Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) finished in second aboard Check Picobello Z, crossing through the timers in 71.203 seconds, while Axelle Lagoubie (FRA) and Cesar collected third place honors for their finish in 71.513 seconds.
Towell piloted Cadence to an early lead, which the duo maintained through the rest of the class, as their time proved to be unbeatable. Using the class as a warm-up round for the 2001 Swedish Warmblood gelding (Car Dento 933 x Main Marco), Cadence will compete next with owner Jennifer Gates in the opening Welcome competition of the highly anticipated Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, on Saturday.
"He felt very good today. The first round of the series is a speed, and he's better if you let him go on his normal stride. I tried to stay with that and let him go, so my plan was to try and have him prepared for that class," noted Towell. "There was an inside turn to an in-and-out which I thought he needed to practice. I don't think a lot of horses did it, but he's very good at those turns so I got on a rhythm. We did that turn, and it worked out well. He feels very good going into Saturday for her."
As for Towell, he's built up a competitive string and will look to make a strong move towards the FEI World Cup Finals in March, as he eyes the larger competitions offered at WEF this season.
"I have enough horses that I can hit up all of the grand prix classes and be competitive, but my real goal is to try to move up the world rankings so I really need to be competitive in those 4* and 5* classes," he noted. "Maybe not win as many classes, but have some very strong finishes and big results."
Cadence will be a strong mount for Gates moving into the 2016 season, and Towell is eager to see the progress the duo will make during circuit. He commented, "Our goal is to be competitive in those classes and continue on to make the finals and do well there too. With Cadence, he can be so quick without trying to be quick. You just turn him and go. I'd say that's definitely his strength, and he's in good form for this weekend. I'm hoping Jenn can give it a shot on him."
Towell continued to praise the athletic gelding and noted that all of the horses in his string are feeling ready and fit for the long circuit ahead. He elaborated, "I'm really happy with all of my horses and they feel great. I think I have a good plan for all of them, and hopefully we'll stick with it throughout circuit."
Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions News // Picture © Sportfot
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