Hardin Towell and Man in Black. Photos © Sportfot.
Victoria Colvin and Dedication Are Champions in Large Junior 16-17 Hunters at FTI WEF
Wellington, FL – February 2, 2014 – Week four of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) concluded with the exciting $50,000 Ariat Grand Prix CSI 2* on Sunday afternoon held on the grass derby field at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). An exciting eight-horse jump-off finished with a win for Hardin Towell (USA) and Man in Black, with Andres Rodriguez (VEN) and Caballito in second and Lauren Hough (USA) aboard Ohlala finishing third.
The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue with its fifth week of competition, sponsored by Rolex, on February 5-9, 2014. The FTI WEF, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.
Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela was the course designer for week four’s finale event. There were 45 competitors on the beautiful grass derby field with eight clear trips in round one to advance to the tie-breaking jump-off. In the second round, four entries cleared the short course without fault.
Lauren Hough set the pace with her clear round in the jump-off aboard The Ohlala Group’s Ohlala in 43.24 seconds to eventually finish third. Andres Rodriguez and Arao Enterprises LLC’s Caballito upped the ante with their time of 42.94 seconds to end up in second place. Roosje Brouwer (NED) and Stal Heijligers and A. Vogels’ SRI Aladdin also completed a clear round over the short course in a slower time of 49.56 seconds to earn fourth place honors. Last to go in the second round, Hardin Towell and Jennifer Gates’ Man in Black got the winning edge, completing the course in 42.47 seconds.
Man in Black is a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Gentleman x Calvados that Towell has been riding for one year. Gates showed the gelding in the Junior Jumpers last year and then handed him over to compete at the higher level with Towell. Sunday’s win was the biggest of Towell’s career – his second grand prix victory, and his first major win at the FTI WEF. The rider is 26 years old and from Camden, South Carolina.
“With him in the past year, probably starting last year in Thunderbird, I was really close in a lot of classes and I would go too fast,” Towell said of his partnership with Man in Black. “On Thursday I was quite close to winning and I knew I should slow down, and I just kept running down the last line. I’m just glad I beat Andres, because in L.A. in November I was winning the World Cup class and was really fast, and everybody was like ‘Congratulations you won!’ and I said, ‘No, Andres still has to go,’ and he beat me by about one-tenth of a second. I think today was really close again, so I’m glad I could repay him the favor!”
“It feels very good (to win), and especially since I just started showing him,” Towell noted. “He’s a little bit strong. I have had a lot of trouble the last six months finding the right bit. I have changed a lot of bits and probably made a lot of mistakes using the wrong bits, but I think we have kind of figured it out. He’s a really sweet horse. He is very brave, very scopey, and this is a great venue out in this grass field. He is always good at places like that. He is so brave that he is a little bit impressed out here sometimes, so today he jumped unbelievably. I could not ask for any more; he was fantastic.”
Commenting on his winning round in the jump-off, Towell detailed, “I thought in the jump-off I was a little bit smarter. I thought about running and being crazy, and then I remembered, ‘You know what, let’s just try to be clean,’ and I thought I was close enough. I landed and I actually saw a leave out to the last jump, which maybe six months ago or Thursday I would have done and knocked it down, but I decided to try to cut it close and win by just a little bit.”
Towell got to compete at some different venues around North America this past year and explained that the experience has helped him grow as a rider.
“It helps a lot,” he stated. “I went to different places and competed against different people. My whole life I have kind of stayed in the Southeast. I have never had that opportunity, so I met a lot of new people, and it was nice showing at Spruce Meadows and everywhere we went. I have had a great last year; it has been very lucky. Jennifer has been great the whole year and I want to thank Chris, my barn manager, and my mom and dad, and my sister. We just have a very good team.”
Andres Rodriguez was happy for Towell’s success this week and had a great round with his horse, Caballito. He acknowledged the beautiful venue at The Stadium at PBIEC, which has hosted classes throughout the week.
“I really enjoy this venue,” Rodriguez stated. “The ring where they had the young riders grand prix the other day and this open field are a great change from the main stage. I think the horses appreciate the change and not jumping the same jumps in the same ring all the time. Leopoldo had a great course out there and I think with the time allowed, we had the right amount of people in the jump-off.”
“When we went to the jump-off there were a lot of really fast horses,” Rodriguez pointed out. “I think five horses in the jump-off have won international classes, so I knew it was going to be fast. It started with the first two having two jumps down, so that started to make me think, but then Lauren went and had a fast round so I went back to the first plan. From Hardin I knew he was going to get back at me at some point. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be today, but it was! I only saw the last line of his round. I thought he was going to take the six strides, which I was kind of hoping he would, and he didn’t. It was his turn to win, and I am happy for him. He’s been too close too many times, and this was his day.”
Third place finisher, Lauren Hough, had a great week with Ohlala, including a win in Friday’s $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 4. Hough was very happy with Sunday’s conclusion to the week and in addition to the third place prize, was named the Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for week four. The award is sponsored by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler.
Commenting on her jump-off round with Ohlala, Hough explained, “I have to stick to my plan with that mare. She doesn’t have a huge stride, but she jumped fantastic and I think Leopoldo did a super job today. He had just the right amount of clear, the time was short but not impossible, and I knew the first two had two jumps down, but I went with what I could do. This is a huge field, so I just had to hope that maybe I would get a little lucky today, but unfortunately these two young men with big horses and big canters went just a little bit faster than me.”
“I went as fast as I thought I could go,” Hough acknowledged. “I don’t know if I could have gotten them, to be honest. She is who she is, and she wins a lot of classes, but they got me today. She was fantastic the whole week and one of her owners is here today, so I’m thrilled that she was able to see her.”
Victoria Colvin and Dedication Are Champions in Large Junior 16-17 Hunters at FTI WEF
Victoria Colvin added yet another accolade to her name when she topped the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division, presented by Antarés, during week four of the FTI WEF. Colvin and the nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Dr. Betsee Parker were third under saddle and third, second, first, and second over fences before being crowned division champion Sunday morning.
The reserve champion for the division was Vida Blue, ridden by Meredith Darst and owned by Elm Rock, LLC. Darst piloted Vida Blue to two blue ribbons over fences and jumped to second and fifth place on the second day of competition for the division.
Owner-rider championship honors were also awarded for the division. Cloe Hymowitz and her horse Perfectionist were announced as division champion owner-rider. There was a tie for reserve champion owner-rider between Piper Benjamin and Corvine and Vivian Yowan and Gretsky.
Parker was determined to have sixteen-year-old Colvin finish out her junior years on Dedication and is happy to see Colvin gel with the sometimes difficult gelding.
“Dedication is a very complicated horse to ride, and he’s very opinionated and strong. When Tori rides him, he has a very wonderful relaxation that occurs. I think it’s what I’ve spoken of [before] that she does to all the horses [she rides]; you can almost see the stream of confidence going from her into the horse,” Parker described.
She continued, “We saw this at the Hampton Classic. I said to Scott, ‘Let’s let Tori ride him and see what happens,’ because I want her to go out of her junior years on this horse. We tried, and she won with the highest score in history. She had a 98. So we thought we had a real good match.”
Parker went on to explain that like the rest of her horses, Dedication adores Colvin. The gelding transforms into a quieter, more settled animal with Colvin in the saddle. The feeling is mutual, and Colvin actually considers Dedication one of the easiest horses she rides.
“He is difficult,” Colvin admitted. “But [for example], Inclusive is really easy but he has a short stride and he’s like a little pony. But Dedication is so big, and he has the biggest stride. He’ll just lope down [the lines]. He could do like Olympic height, so for [the junior hunters] he just lopes over everything.”
Having the support of an owner like Parker means the world to Colvin, who acknowledged she wouldn’t be where she is today without Parker’s help.
“She’s amazing. If she wasn’t, I’d probably be doing small ponies still! Yeah, I’d still be doing small green [ponies],” Colvin joked.
Colvin’s victory wrapped up another week of competition at the FTI WEF. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
About FTI Consulting, Inc.
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,000 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.
About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.
Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations