LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Irish Olympic veteran Kevin Babington put an exclamation point on the Lake Placid Horse Shows' 50-year celebration with the greatest performance in Lake Placid Horse Show history.
Babington swept the top three places in the $100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix presented by Aon, the closing event of the 2019 Lake Placid Horse Shows, Sponsored by Bainbridge Farms, LLC and Presented by Sea Shore Stables, LLC.
Babington turned in three of the seven clean rides over the 16-effort, first-round course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral of Portugal and then had the only three clean rides over the eight-jump tiebreaker course. He rode first in the jump-off on Shorapur, a 14-year-old, Hanoverian mare, and set what proved to be the winning mark, coming home clean in 33.212 seconds.
Three rides later, Babington rode clean on Super Chilled, an 11-year-old, Irish Sport Horse gelding, but in a slightly slower time of 35.436 seconds for second place before ending the jump-off with his sixth clean ride of the day, coming home in third place with a time of 38.430 seconds on Mark Q, his 17-year-old, Irish Sport Horse gelding.
"I've been pinching myself ever since my last round. I never would have foreseen something like this happening," said Babington following his fourth Grand Prix win in Lake Placid. "My horses have been in really good form and I was hoping for a couple of good rounds, but if someone had wanted to bet me that I'd be one-two-three, I never would have taken the bet.
"I think I had the luck of the Irish with me. Shorapur had a really hard rub at the third-to-last fence of the first round and easily could have had it down. She's the fastest of my three horses and normally I'd prefer to have her go last; but since she was first I decided to go for broke and it all just played out beautifully after that."
Babington's performance, coupled with his second-place finish in the first week's $100,000 Prevost Richard M. Feldman Grand Prix, earned him the Richard and Diana Feldman Perpetual Challenge Trophy for Excellence and $2,000 as the rider winning the most prize money in Lake Placid’s two Grand Prix events.
Also, Shorapur's groom, Petra Srnec, won $200 from The Grooms Award, Ltd., a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, together with an engraved grooms bag, compliments of SmartPak, containing a variety of gifts including OutSmart bug repellent, Sterling Essentials tack cleaner and Limber Up from Back on Track.
Earlier in the day, Jimmy Torano rode Argentus to the win in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by Eastern Hay & Purina Animal Nutrition. In winning the Derby for the fourth consecutive year, Torano rode Argentus, owned by Isalou, Inc., to a first-round score of 172, which placed him second to the 181 turned in by David Wilbur on Charismo. Torano then scored a dazzling 198 in the Handy for a two-round total of 370 to claim the win with Wilbur placing second with 365.5 after scoring 184.5 in round two.
"Coming into the Handy in second place I knew I had to pull out all the stops," said Torano. "There was an inside turn that was really quite difficult; I did it and then I just let him gallop to an oxer at the end of the ring. There was another inside turn and then I let him fly to the last two-stride. He was just phenomenal today."
Set against the backdrop of the stunning Adirondack Mountains, the 2019 Lake Placid Horse Shows, held at the North Elba Showgrounds, celebrated 50 years of show jumping in Lake Placid. They are considered by many as, “The Best Two Weeks of a Horseman’s Summer.” The US Equestrian Federation (USEF) has designated the Lake Placid Horse Shows as a "USEF Heritage Competition," an honor reserved for an elite group of exceptional shows. Offering $560,000 prize money, the two Lake Placid Horse Shows are USEF Premier rated for hunters and 6* rated for Jumpers.
For more information call 518-523-9625 or see www.lakeplacidhorseshows.com.
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