Kevin Babington and Shorapur (Photo courtesy of The Book LLC)
Lake Placid, NY (July 12, 2019) – Olympian Kevin Babington took peak performance to a new level this Sunday in Lake Placid, where he achieved a rare Grand Prix hat trick. In what he described as a major highlight of his career, the Irishman finished first, second, and third on three of his horses for a clean sweep of the $100,000 Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix. Babington piloted Shorapur (33.212 seconds), Super Chilled (35.436 seconds), and Mark Q (38.430 seconds) to the top three spots out of 64 entries, marking his fourth Grand Prix win in Lake Placid.
“I’ve been pinching myself ever since my last round. I never would have foreseen something like this happening,” said Babington. “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.”
2019 George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Champion and defending 2018 ASPCA Maclay National Champion Sam Walker was once again a top contender, winning two major classes on Sunday after securing the $7,500 Chevrolet Low Junior Jumper Classic on Saturday. Walker won the Kathy Scholl Equitation Classic presented by Kate Levy & Family for the second consecutive year, then topped a field of 34 horses with two fault-free rides on Gidora S in the $10,000 Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
Devon, Pa. – May 29, 2019 – Wednesday at the Devon Horse Show and County Fair saw the return of the highly anticipated Ladies’ Day, along with the presentation of the Devon Grand Hunter Championship, sponsored by Hermès, in the Dixon Oval. Taking home the prestigious honors for 2019 was Victoria Colvin with Brad Wolff’s Private Practice. Colvin also claimed the coveted Leading Lady Rider award to complete the special day in addition to being awarded the Fourth Sally Deaver Murray Memorial Challenge Trophy with Private Practice after their beautiful rounds in the High Performance Working Hunter division.
Kevin Babington and Super Chilled Are Super Fast in $36,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4*
International show jumpers returned to the Dixon Oval on Wednesday to compete in the $36,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4*, sponsored by Herr’s Food. Local athlete Kevin Babington (IRL) of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania outpaced 16 combinations with Debra J. Wycoff’s Super Chilled to ride away with the win and the George T. Pew Jr. Memorial Perpetual Trophy in the one-round speed competition.
Susan Sisco and Ringfort Tinkaturk Top Ladies’ Side Saddle
The Ladies’ Side Saddle division took center stage following the hunters during Ladies’ Day at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. The division featured an undersaddle and hunter hack competition, both sponsored by Courtyard by Marriott, as well as an over fences class, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds. Susan Sisco and Ringfort Tinkaturk ultimately took home the championship tricolor and the True Blue Challenge Trophy after earning first place in the undersaddle and in the hunter hack, and second over fences.
Wellington, FL – April 25, 2019 – Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, PA made his mark on the $40,000 Triple Crown Nutrition Spring III Grand Prix at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), piloting both his mounts Mark Q and Shorapur to a first and second place finish, respectively. Babington and his own Mark Q dashed through the short course in 35.967 seconds, while stopping the timers in 36.865 seconds aboard Shorapur, owned by Shorapur, LLC. Luiz Francisco de Azevedo and so What HP Z took third place after completing the jump-off course in 37.085 seconds.
Babington and Mark Q have a stored partnership together, collecting wins across the country at the Grand Prix level. The pair navigated the track, built by Richard Jeffery, well, which ensured a solid performance in the jump-off from the duo. A total of 12 combinations moved forward to contest the jump-off, with six pairs completing the course with a double clear effort. Over 35 total combinations attempted the first-round track, with two riders finishing on just a single time fault to keep them from advancing to the jump-off round.
“I thought the course was difficult enough and understand why [Richard] had to build it the way he did. I thought it suited Mark Q really well and he’s a very good oxer jumper. Shorapur is more of a vertical jumper because she’s super careful, but they both rode it well,” said Babington.
“I was glad the time was a little bit tight because for my horses, they’re both experienced and I was able to do a couple of inside turns that kept me inside of the time. It was tight enough and the first three jumps were a little bit difficult, but there were a few places you could make it up.”
Babington had a fantastic week with both horses, particularly with his mount Mark Q, who finished in second place in the $25,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Spring Grand Prix on Friday. Babington commented that he felt Mark Q jumped much better in the jump-off than in the first round on Friday and the feeling was mimicked on Sunday.
“Mark Q was second on Friday and when he came back on Friday, he jumped much better in the jump-off than he did in the first round. I knew that I could really challenge him and take some risks. I did eight strides from one to two, which was the leave-out number,” he explained. “When I was approaching the jump, he swapped leads, so I found a waiting distance and really had work for the eight and then I knew I could stay on that rhythm and everything came up just fine.”
Discussing the ride on his second mount Shorapur, Babington commented, “On Shorapur I knew the eight from one to two may be too much for her. She’s super careful at her oxers, so I stayed wide in nine and everything came up just the way I wanted it. I knew that if I added a stride down the line, I was taking a risk, but it worked for her to do the nine to the last jump and jumped it super well. I figured that if everything came up just right maybe Kent or Darragh would catch me, but all worked out well.”
Following his success at ESP Spring III, Babington will head straight to Kentucky to compete Shorapur, before gearing Mark Q back up for FEI competition in Kentucky during the month of May, with the ultimate goal of competing him at Devon in June.
“The reason I jumped Shorapur is because she’s going to do the class in Kentucky this weekend, we’re leaving tonight, so it was just a prep class for her. Mark Q did a lot at the beginning of circuit and very little at the end. He’ll do the regular FEI shows in Kentucky and then hopefully I will jump him in Devon in the Grand Prix. Shorapur will skip Devon and potentially do Upperville instead. I also have Super Chilled and we’ll just try to break it up a little bit with them to see where they will do best.”
Hardin Towell and Hollywood Be Good Capture Top Honors in $25,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Spring Welcome Grand Prix
Hardin Towell of Camden, SC found himself atop the leaderboard once again during ESP Spring III, this time aboard Hollywood Be Good, owned by Kirsten Ostling, after the pair finished ahead of the class in the $25,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Spring Welcome Grand Prix. The pair finished with a time of 35.683 seconds in the jump-off ahead of Kevin Babington and Mark Q, who completed the course in 36.486 seconds. Alberto Michan of Wellington, FL and El Pacho, owned by Pablo Mejia, rounded out the top three in 37.099 seconds.
The course, designed by Richard Jeffery, saw 26 entries tackle the main track, with 11 entries advancing to the jump-off. Kevin Babington piloted his two entries into the second round, while Towell also guided his two mounts successful into the short course phase as well. A total of seven combinations finished fault free.
Hardin Towell Guides Billy Cool to $10,000 Triple Crown Open 1.40m Stake Win
Towell and Billy Cool, owned by Oakland Ventures, LLC, rode to the top of the $10,000 Triple Crown Nutrition Open 1.40m Stake after stopping the course timers in 37.787 seconds. Towell also piloted Corona 93, owned by Oakmont Stables, LLC, to second place with a time of 41.134 seconds, finishing nearly four seconds faster aboard his first-place mount, Billy Cool. Lorcan Gallagher of Wellington, FL and Cassandra F, owned by Southern Arches, LLC, rounded out the top three with a time of 41.444 seconds.
The class saw a total of 40 entries with eight combinations advancing to contest the jump-off track. Towell and Paul O’Shea were the only two riders with two horses in the jump-off round, as half of the advanced field completed the class with zero faults.
For full results from the $40,000 Triple Crown Nutrition Spring III Grand Prix, click here.
Wellington, FL – January 31, 2019 – Irish Olympian Kevin Babington rode Mark Q to the win in the $72,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 4 CSI 4* on the grass derby field of the Equestrian Village at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Thursday, January 31, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Sixty-five entries contested Thursday’s WEF Challenge Cup track set by Anderson Lima (BRA), with six horses qualifying to come back for the jump-off. When Babington and Mark Q entered the ring as the penultimate entry to return, Carly Anthony (USA) and Clochard, owned by Neil Jones Equestrian Inc., had set the time to beat at 44.13 seconds. However, Babington and his longtime partner, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, would make short work of that time, shaving off more than four seconds to ultimately clinch the win with a time of 40.03 seconds.
Jeff Gogul and Quintessa Stand Out in Equine Tack & Nutritionals Green Hunter 3’6”
The E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Field kicked off competition Thursday at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a field of 20 horse-and-rider competitions contesting for the championship in the Equine Tack & Nutritionals Green Hunter 3’6” division. Ultimately, Jeff Gogul of Wilmington, Ohio won the top title with a total of 30 points to just narrowly overcome Kelley Farmer.
Gogul was aboard the nine-year-old warmblood mare Quintessa, who is owned by Roberts Stables, LLC. The pair earned first place in three of the five classes comprising the division which was enough to push them several points ahead of Farmer.
Lexington, Ky. – May 20, 2018 – The final day of the Kentucky Spring Classic concluded jumper competition in the Rolex Stadium with the $35,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, to close out the spring horse show series. Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) tested 31 athletes across his 16-efforts track, but Ireland’s Kevin Babington (IRL) was the only double-clear pathfinder with Mark Q to claim his second consecutive National Grand Prix victory of the series.
The technical track only saw four clear rounds consisting of just three different riders as Babington directed two mounts to the jump-off. Babington first entered the second round aboard his own Double O Seven 7, but with one rail the pair ended on four faults in a time of 43.260 seconds, to be overtaken and they finished in fourth place.
Next in the ring, Alex Granato (USA) and Moyer Farm LLC’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Beorn, followed to better their time in 41.221 seconds, but with one rail down they still left room for improvement. The duo once again claimed the third place prize, repeating their finish in last week’s $35,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix.
Todd Minikus (USA) returned next aboard Amex Z, the 9-year-old Zangersheide mare owned by the Bit By Bit Group, to fly to the speediest time of 39.168 seconds, but also misplaced one unfortunate rail and the 4 fault total placed the pair into the second position.
The last to enter the jump-off round, Babington knew all he needed was a clear, conservative round aboard Mark Q and the duo delivered as the only horse-and-rider combination to produce the long-awaited double-clear effort in a time of 47.272 seconds. He and the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding claimed the win to repeat Babington’s victory in last week’s $35,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix with Super Chilled.
Earlier in the day, the $20,000 Under 25 Grand Prix saw 18 horse-and-rider combinations tackle the 16 effort track created by Guilherme Jorge (BRA). Six athletes jumped clear rounds to qualify for a competitive jump-off that saw each athlete pushing the time limit. Abigail McArdle and Plain Bay Sales LLC’s Fanta Light B were the fastest pair in the jump-off to stop the timers at 35.025 seconds.
The 8-year-old mare recently moved up the ranks during the Florida winter season with McArdle. The pair secured big wins at the Palm Beach Masters and a CSI2* at the Winter Equestrian Festival class. McArdle plans to continue to bring the young mare up the Grand Prix level ranks.
Lacey Gilbertson and her superstar mare, Baloppi, come in close for second at 35.037 seconds. Gabriela Reutter and Juan Reutter’s Atticus Diamant jumped to third with a time of 34.707 seconds.
Jordan Allen and Eclypse Eliminate Competition to Win $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
The final day of the Kentucky Spring Classic saw hunter competitors vying for the top prize in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by the World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows. Twenty-five horse-and-rider combinations entered the Stonelea Ring with hopes of capturing the top prize, but no one could catch Jordan Allen and Eclypse, who claimed first place with a total score of 184.
The first round of competition asked athletes to demonstrate their skills over a lengthy course which involved bending lines and multiple combinations. After all 25 horse-and-rider teams completed their course, the top 12 athletes who scored an 80.5 or higher were asked to return for a second handy round. During the handy round riders demonstrated their horses’ handiness by executing tight turns and a trot fence was also added to the course.
Allen and Eclypse dominated both rounds of derby competition by scoring a 92 during round one and again during round two. Their scores could not be caught by any other competitor, which included veteran riders such as Jeff Gogul and David Beisel. Allen utilized all available opportunities for points, including all four high option fences during round one and round two. Allen and Eclypse, a 10-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Holly Orlando, teamed up during Week 11 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida where they placed consistently in the Junior Hunters.
Second place was earned by Samantha Cooper and Nandino, a 10-year-old Brandenberg Warmblood owned by Ellen Malson. The pair put in a first round score of 89 and a second handy round score of 93 for a combined total of 182.
Last week’s National Derby winner at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, Jeff Gogul and Quite Ruffy, captured third place with an 86 in round one and a 91 in round two for a 177-point total.
Lexington, Ky. – May 13, 2018 – The final day of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show highlighted national jumper competition in the Rolex Stadium with the $35,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, presented by AUDI of Lexington, and the $20,000 Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Hollow Creek, to conclude the first week of competition in the spring series. Sunday’s featured victories were awarded to Kevin Babington (IRL) and Eugenio Garza (MEX) in their respective classes.
In the $35,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, the first round saw 32 starters over Robert Murphy III’s 17-effort course, resulting in a 10 horse jump-off. With two mounts in the class, Babington increased his odds when he piloted both Super Chilled and Shorapur to clear rounds and into the jump-off. Babington and the first of his two rides, Debra Wycoff’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Super Chilled, scored a double-clear round in a time of 38.761 seconds to capture the gelding’s first grand prix win. An unfortunate rail with Shorapur LLC’s Hanoverian mare ended with the pair in seventh place.
Ramiro Quintana (ARG) rode Corento VH Dingenshof, the 9-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Smith Hogan LLC, to a double-clear finish in 40.217 seconds for the second place ribbon. Third place was awarded to Alex Granato (USA) aboard Moyer Farm LLC’s Beorn. Granato and the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding finished just behind Quintana with a time of 40.449 seconds.
Prior to the National Grand Prix, 25 riders challenged a very difficult 1.50m track in the $20,000 Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Hollow Creek. Many of the athletes found trouble at the final combination, consisting of a triple combination to a liverpool oxer, and only the final two riders of the class cleared all 17 efforts fault-free with room to spare under the altered 88 second time allowed.
The head-to-head jump-off saw Sloan Hopson and her own Costa Rica VH Waterschoot Z put the pressure on as they flew to a clear second round in a time of 46.081 seconds. Eugenio Garza followed as the final rider in both the first and second rounds, knowing he had nothing to lose with longtime partner Bariano. Garza and the 17-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, owned by El Milagro, flew to the finish in 41.127 seconds to earn the victory. Garza concluded a successful first week at the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, hot off his third place finish in Saturday night’s $131,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3* with Armani SL Z. Hopson and her 10-year-old Zangersheide mare settled for the second place finish.
Lacey Gilbertson and Teddy Vlock ended the first round with just one time fault, but as the faster of the two, only 10 milliseconds over the time allowed, Gilbertson earned the third place ribbon, finishing in 88.018 seconds with Seabrook LLC’s Cobolt. Vlock received the fourth place prize.
Darragh Kenny also concluded a successful week, capturing the Leading Open Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by Envisian Products, with a total of 28 points based on wins in Thursday’s $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3* and Saturday’s $131,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3*.
Kelley Farmer and Jeff Gogul Claim Top Prizes in USHJA Hunter Derbies
Hunter competition continued in the Stonelea Ring with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, which concluded competition at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. At the end of the handy round of competition, it was Jeff Gogul and Just Ruffy that put in the best effort to take home top honors in the National Hunter Derby. Directly after, it was veteran rider Kelley Farmer and Aizlynn Radwanski’s Because who claimed the blue ribbon in the International Hunter Derby.
During the USHJA International Hunter Derby, 24 competitors tried for the champion ribbon, but no horse-and-rider combination could catch Farmer, who took home the top prize with a cumulative score of 392 after both rounds of competition. Farmer sat in a good position to claim the lead in some fashion, as she had entered with four different horses. Farmer and Because tackled the first round of competition with ease, despite some technical elements to the course including a wall fence that was placed in challenging location. During the handy round the pair secured the highest score of the day by utilizing all four of the high option fences in addition to accumulating 15 handy bonus points from the judges.
In second was another veteran hunter rider, Jennifer Alfano aboard her own Candid, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding. The pair rode to second place with a cumulative score of 382. Alfano also claimed third place with Sharon O’Neill’s Miss Lucy with a score of 380.50. The pair recently placed second in the $50,000 USHJA Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.
Earlier in the day, the USHJA National Hunter Derby took place in the Stonelea Ring as well. Athletes navigated over a 10-fence course that offered four high option fences. The top twelve riders were asked to return to complete a handy round where they demonstrated their capabilities over a trot fence and multiple options for tight turns.
Despite being a relatively new combination, Jeff Gogul and Just Ruffy dominated the first round of competition with a score of 91. They were the only competitors of the day to achieve a score in the nineties, which put them in a good position entering the handy round. After the handy round, the pair had a cumulative score of 180. Just Ruffy has been a reliable derby mount for Gogul, having won six derbies during the winter season at the World Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina.
Second place was captured by Jordan Allen and Eclypse, a 10-year-old Hanoverian owned by Holly Orlando. The pair narrowly missed tying for first place with Gogul, acquiring a final cumulative score of 179. In a similar fashion, Alyssa Mansfield and Candor placed in a third with a score of 178 after two rounds of competition.
Wellington, FL – April 25, 2018 – The third installment of the ESP Spring Series concluded on Sunday, April 22, after a successful week of wins for Todd Minikus and Kevin Babington at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL.
The week boasted yet another win for Todd Minikus of Lake Worth, FL and Amex Z, owned by Chris Brems, in the $25,000 Spring Welcome Grand Prix on Friday, April 22. This victory was Minikus’ fourth Grand Prix win of the series, and the second for this specific mount. The pair topped the class of 39 entries, blazing through fast track timers in 39.592 seconds. Second place was captured by Fabio Levias da Costa of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Tosca de L’esques after contesting the eleven-horse jump-off in 39.592 seconds. Third place was rounded out by Celso Ariani of Wellington, FL and Dali T, owned by Rodrigo Padilla and Ricardo Romero, who completed the jump-off in 41.893 seconds.
A total of 31 entries contested the $40,000 Triple Crown Nutrition Grand Prix on Sunday, April 23, but none could catch Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, PA and Shorapur, owned by Shorapur LLC, who stopped the clock in a winning time of 39.258 seconds.
Second place went to Margie Engle of Wellington, FL and Gladewinds Farm Inc.’s Bockmanns Lazio, who rode through the Richard Jeffery designed jump-off course in 40.409 seconds. Emanuel Andrade of Wellington, FL took third with his own Hardrock Z, jumping off in 40.867 seconds.
Avery-Anna Hogan of Wellington, FL and her own Eurocommerce Tampa rode to victory in the $1,500 NAL Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic after completing their jump-off trip in 38.268 seconds ahead of Emerson Lane of Miami, FL and Diddlina D’Ive Z, owned by Lane, who took second with a time of 39.756 seconds. Katie Sansone of Coconut Creek, FL and Tropobella 3K, owned by Sansone, earned third place after riding to a jump-off time of 39.925 seconds.
The $10,000 Triple Crown Nutrition Open Welcome Stake awarded the win to Pablo Barrios of Wellington, FL and Gut Einhaus, LLC’s Le Vio with a jump-off time of 29.246 seconds. Emanuel Andrade of Wellington, FL and his own Jenni’s Chance were presented with second place after completing the track in 29.753 seconds. Joaquim Malta de Abreu of Wellington, FL placed third with Two Swans Farm’s Arino du Rouet with a jump-off time of 30.207 seconds.
The $5,000 Omega Alpha® 1.35m Stake saw Alexis Trosch of Wellington, FL and her own Cortex Z, owned by Trosch, take first place, stopping the jump-off timers in a quick 33.929 seconds. Fabio Leivas da Costa of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Luziada Jmen, owned by Bonne Chance Farm LLC, took home second place after finishing the track in 34.601 seconds. Leslie Howard of Darien, CT scooped up third place aboard Flo, owned by GJ Stable, finishing with a time of 35.412 seconds.
The $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby saw Kaitlin Porath of Charlotte, NC and her own Breaux take the championship title, after earning a total of 182 points after round two of competition. Lisa Rex of Westbury, NY and Over the Top Stables LLC’s Overjoyed secured reserve champion honors on 178.5 points. The yellow ribbon was snatched by Kelsey Duff of PBTD Ruffian, FL aboard Renee Eddy’s Playin’ for Keeps after riding to 175 points.
Nancy Hooker of Wellington, FL and Coolidge, owned by Richard Prant, took top honors in the Adult Amateur Hunter Older Division during ESP Spring. Marcie Marcus of Villanova, PA and Caliber Z, owned by Marcus Equestrian Enterprises, LLC, rode to reserve.
Katherine Newman of Wellington, FL aboard Dandelion, owned by Allwyn Court, secured champion honors in the Triple Crown Nutrition Green Hunter 3’6″ Division, ahead of Maria Rasmussen of Oak Creek, WI aboard Sidarta, owned by Over Fences Farm, LLC.
Alexa Elle Lignelli of New York, NY and Fox Creeks Curious George, owned by The Lignelli Family, finished atop the Score at the Top Medium Pony Hunter Division ahead of Georgia Schmidt of Lutherville, MD, who collected reserve champion with Cleverist, owned by Emily Aitken.
Maggie Gould of Wellington, FL was awarded champion of the USHJA 2′ & 2’3″ Hunter Division aboard winning mount Masterpiece, owned by Alexandra Raffy. Reserve champion was presented to Alliyah Antoniadis of Middletown, NY and True Colors, owned by Joe White.
Margaret O’Meara of Kirkland, WA captured a tricolor ribbon aboard Just Nick, owned by Woodland Way, Inc., in the USHJA Hunter 3′ Division. Denise Monopoli of Loxahatchee, FL and Poetry in Motion, owned by McKenzie Wade, finished as reserve champions.
The Gold Coast Feed Performance Hunter 3’3″ & 3’6″ Division saw Havens Schatt of Georgetown, KY riding Aristocrat, owned by Tracy Scheriff-Muser, collect the division’s champion honors. Reserve champion also went to Schatt and Use the Ring LLC’s Noble Blue.
Amelia Ruth of New York, NY and Broadway, owned by Carol Ruth & Sumner Hill Farms LLC, finished atop the #1 Education Place Junior Hunter 3’6″ Division. Reid Arani of Lexington, KY and Margot Bay Farm, LLC’s Soldier captured reserve placement.
Dagny Mactaggart of Millbrook, NY and Ziezo captured the Equiline High Junior Amateur Owner Division, earning champion, while reserve champion was awarded to Mireya Godoy of Wellington, FL and Paddy’s Dream Z, owned by Godoy.
Molly Sewell of Winter Park, FL and Inverness, owned by Leslie Campbell, took champion accolades in the Triple Crown Nutrition Green Hunter 3’3″ Division. Reserve champion was awarded to Havens Schatt and Totality, owned by Jennifer Speisman.
Competition will resume at PBIEC on Friday, May 4, with the fourth week of the ESP Spring Series continuing through Sunday, May 6. For more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Wellington, FL – January 11, 2017 – The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) kicked off its first day of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL on Wednesday with a win for Ireland’s Kevin Babington aboard Debra Wycoff’s Super Chilled in the morning’s $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m speed class. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 2, 2017, featuring competition for hunters, jumpers, and equitation, with over $9 million in prize money up for grabs.
Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) is setting the jumper tracks in the International Arena at PBIEC for week one competition. Jorge began Wednesday with 13 entries in the 1.45m and six clear rounds. First to go, Conor Swail (IRL) set the pace in 62.36 seconds with Quite Cassini, owned by Vanessa Mannix, and finished in second place. Babington and Super Chilled soon took over the lead with their time of 59.97 seconds. Molly Ashe (USA) took third place in the end riding Audi’s Dimple, owned by Maarten Huygens, through the timers in 64.16 seconds.
Super Chilled is an Irish Sport Horse gelding (by Gelvin Clover) that is coming nine years old this season. Babington and owners Debra and Kirk Wycoff purchased the gelding from Irish Olympian Greg Broderick when the horse was six years old. Babington has taken his time producing Super Chilled over the last few years and stepped up to the grand prix level at the end of the 2016 season.
Remarking on his opening WEF victory, Babington stated, “It is a good start to the season. It feels great, especially on that horse. He did really well as a seven and eight-year-old, so I am really excited for his nine-year-old year. He is really consistent; he doesn’t knock too many rails.”
Babington plans to compete Super Chilled in some three-star classes throughout the circuit and has his ultimate goal to move the gelding up to four-star competition by the end of the winter. Describing the horse and his ride, Babington detailed, “On the ground he is a super sweet horse. He was quite head shy as a young horse. When you are on his back, he is very sensitive. You would never take your jacket off [when] on him, or if I have to adjust my spurs or anything, I have to have somebody hold him. He is very sharp. In the ring, he was always quite rideable. He was a little bit weaker on one side than the other, but now it is coming together and he is lovely to ride.”
Babington was fourth in the order of go and knew what he needed to do after watching the first few rounds before heading into the ring.
“I saw Conor go first, and he had a really smooth round, so I tried to do pretty much the same numbers,” the rider explained. “I think I did one less back on the third jump and that was the plan. For the first day, I thought it was a nice speed track because there were lots of options. There were plenty of places you could leave out a stride right off the bat. He gave you three inside turns that were all very doable for the first day in the ring, and the horse handled it really well.”
With a nice win to start off the 2017 circuit, Babington looks forward to a great winter. In all, Babington has over 30 horses in Wellington for the season, including four horses that he will show at the grand prix level and several nice young horses that he will ride himself. In addition, young professional Oliver McCarthy will be riding for Babington this winter, taking on the rides of some sale horses and helping with client mounts to give Babington more time for training his students. Babington, his wife Dianna, and trainer Sissy Wickes will all make up the team working together this winter for Kevin Babington LLC.
“I have a great group of horses for myself this year, and we have a really good group of clients and an excellent staff here, so I’m excited about the circuit. We will be busy,” Babington concluded.
Also competing in the International Arena on Wednesday, the $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40 speed class was held in a California Split with 112 entries. Laura Chapot (USA) and Mary Chapot’s Zealous were the winners in Section A, and Daniel Coyle (IRL) rode Ariel and Susan Grange’s Cita to top honors in Section B.
The 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival continues with its second day of competition on Thursday featuring the $25,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup in the International Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Kevin Babington and Mark Q. Photo By: The Book, LLC.
Devon, Pa. – June 2, 2016 – The luck belonged to the Irish during the 2016 $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*. Kevin Babington and Mark Q repeated their 2011 victory in the Dixon Oval, beating Danielle Torano and McLain Ward in a three-horse jump-off for the lion’s share of the prize money.
A crowd of 9,000 spectators turned out for the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair’s highlight event, watching as the best in the country competed over the technical CSI4* course built by Kelvin Bywater. Only three were able to master the first round, and it was Babington and Mark Q that were the pathfinders. Returning at the top of the tiebreaker, they once again left all the rails intact to set the pace to beat at 38.43 seconds.
“I thought to myself, whatever I do McLain is going to figure out a better plan anyway,” joked Babington. “The leave-out to the double was risky for me, but I knew I could be fast across the ring. At that stage I thought had already sort of lost it, but it’s always nice to win a class!”
The second to return was Danielle Torano aboard Callas III. With a slightly more conservative path on the young 9-year-old mount, the amateur rider and mother of two cleared the track in 39.49 seconds to take over second place behind Babington. At the end of the night, Torano was honored with the Richard E. McDevitt Style Award for the rider who exemplified the best style of riding.
“Callas III is a chestnut mare, so that should tell you a little bit,” laughed Torano. “She was pretty up in the schooling area before the first round, which rattled me for a minute. I decided there was nothing I could do, so I just went with it. To come in the ring and look at all the people – she’s never seen anything like that. As I went to the first jump she felt super focused, and she was amazing in the first round. I messed up a little bit in the jump-off, but she’s super careful.”
The crowd roared when the final rider of the night entered the Dixon Oval. Olympian McLain Ward on his Pan American Gold medalist-mount, Rothchild, seemed like a sure bet. Coming off a streak of eight international victories, Ward seemed unstoppable. And he was. Until the last fence.
As the crowd let out a yell at the penultimate vertical, Rothchild lost his focus on the homestretch to the final oxer and ducked out at the fence, much to the shock of all who watched. The error left Ward to pick up the third place prize while Babington led the lap of honor.
“What makes Rothchild great is that he’s sensitive, he’s sharp; he’s a little fireball,” explained Ward. “The place erupted and I think that rattled him slightly, but that’s brilliant. That’s what we need in the sport. I wouldn’t want it any different. I need to deal with it better; he needs to deal with it better. That’s what makes this place so special.”
Winning an international event five years later with the same mount takes a special horse, and for Babington, Mark Q is his favorite mount of all time.
“Carling King made me and is the horse of a lifetime,” said Babington. “Mark Q is my favorite horse that I’ve ever had. He’s stepped up to the plate so often, and he’s kept me in the sport and kept me jumping big classes, even when he shouldn’t have. I’d enter him in the HITS Million class, and he’d jump around and maybe pull one down, but on the day you can put him anywhere, indoors, outdoors. He’s not a superstar but he gives it 100 percent. Now, at 14, he’s jumping better than he has ever jumped.”
Babington added, “He just feels more elastic in his body for some reason. He’s more focused. He was a very difficult horse at the beginning; a very quirky horse. He’s still erratic and it’s still very hard to get his lead changes in the ring. But he’s trying to be careful. I don’t have to protect him as much as I used. He’s just in a happy place at the moment.”
With the addition of an international ranking through the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the Devon Horse Show has continued to try and improve the standards at the world-class event.
“I’ve always been a great fan of Devon,” noted Ward. “The team here has made it first class. I think becoming FEI 4*, increasing the prize money; I hope it continues to grow. I don’t think this group here will rest on their laurels. I think the goal will be to go to 5* and have even more money. I think the people will come. I think the riders will start to come.”
The Devon Horse Show is a special event for everyone involved, and consistently draws one of the biggest and most enthusiastic crowds in the world. “Devon is very special to me because I live 30 minutes from here,” noted Babington. “All the students are here tonight, people I helped 20 years ago are here tonight, so it’s definitely very special. It’s a fantastic venue and the footing is fantastic. Where else can you have such a crowd behind you than Devon? I tell all the other riders around: if you haven’t been to Devon it’s a show you have to come to!”
Show Manager Peter Doubleday concluded, “We basically tried to do everything that the riders had requested. We doubled the prize money. We went FEI. We truly believe that it’ll be a work in progress. I know with our group we can be very patient. We want to continue our FEI affiliation and to make it even bigger and better. This event to me and all these other riders will tell you that this is truly, truly the best show jumping audience in North America. We have a great product here and we’re heading in the right direction.”
Liza Boyd Wins the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
Thursday was derby day at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, and in true derby queen fashion, Liza Boyd bested the field of 24 to take home the blue ribbon aboard Like I Said in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, which was sponsored by the Wheeler Family in memory of the late Russell Frey.
In the first round, Nick Haness set the score to beat on Countdown, taking all four high options to finish with a score of 191. After the first round, Louise Serio was sitting pretty in second place aboard El Primero with a score of 187, which included the four bonus points for taking the high options.
Going into the handy round, Sandy Ferrell waited in third place on Meredith Lipke’s Fifty Shades with a score of 183, including an added four points for jumping the high options. Boyd sat in fourth aboard Billie Steffee’s Maggie May with a score of 181, also including an added four points for riding the high options.
Boyd and Pony Lane Farms’ Like I Said entered the handy hanging back in fifth place with a score of 178.5, which included four points for choosing the high options.
As the handy round began, it was clear that the Alan Lohman-designed course would dash the derby dreams of multiple riders, including Serio and El Primero’s, who were one of two entries to refuse the trot jump.
As Boyd returned on Like I Said, however, her tidy turns and forward ride caught the attention of the judges, earning her a whopping score of 213, including the added 9.5 points for handiness and four for choosing the high options. Much to father Jack Towell’s excitement, Boyd exited the ring and waited for the class to finish with a total score of 391.5.
“For me, I always like to be the underdog,” Boyd said. “I don’t mind going back a little low. These derbies are my passion. I absolutely love these, and I love the handy rounds. I love the excitement of it. Like I Said is a great mare. A good mare has a lot of desire, and that mare just dug deep and tried really hard for me. I just try to stay out of her way and just go forward. She’s a little bit like an old fashion hunter. I think she has a little bit more of a Thoroughbred-type of way of going.”
The 8-year-old Like I Said, one of only two mares in the class, actually began her career as a jumper under the tutelage of Kent Farrington. Boyd added that she thinks the mare’s strong base on the flat contributes greatly to her ability as a derby horse.
“Larry and Kelley did an amazing job producing her into a hunter in Florida this year,” Boyd commented. “For these derbies, you really have to do your homework and flat them. I think that’s what makes it exciting, at least for me. When I go home, I know what to work on. I do a lot of dressage lessons and flat work with the derby horses. You’re always trying to strive to improve yourself and your horse, and that’s fun for us as riders.”
Ferrell and Fifty Shades delivered a smooth ride as well, choosing to take three of the high options and impressing the judges to earn the duo and extra seven points for handiness for a final score of 379.
“He and I get along pretty well,” Ferrell said. “No one is quite sure how I stay on him because he jumps so high, but I just think it’s so much fun. I don’t even think about it. He gets a little too excited after the big jumps sometimes and loses a little focus, so that’s what I took into account when choosing to jump the low option at the first jump, because I had to turn tight. I took the safety route, which I lost some points on. I kept missing all week in the High Performance, and we put it together today, so that was really nice.”
Haness was the last entry to return aboard Countdown, and the pair laid down a nearly perfect trip as the crowd waited with baited breath. However, a heartbreaking knockdown at the last fence dashed the young professional’s hopes for the derby win.
Boyd and Like I Said’s high score of 391.5 would hold out for the top spot, leaving Ferrell and Fifty Shades in second with 379 points. Third place ended up going to Sloane Coles, who piloted Autumn Rhythm to a final score of 353.
“Today, I am second to the derby queen,” Ferrell laughed. “It’s like winning to me. It’s an honor to me. She is much more veteran at this than I am. She is one of my heroes. Getting beat by a good horse and a good rider is really ok. There is a lot of camaraderie out there. You have to have fun doing this.”
As the equestrian community grieves the loss of Russell Frey, Boyd added that the class being held in his memory made it very special for all of the riders.
“I think that Sandy [Ferrell] would say, as well, that this class being in memory of Russell [Frey] was special for everyone,” Boyd said. “I think he would’ve given us a run for our money today. We might be second and third right now. I think he would be happy.”
Ferrell added that showing at Devon this year has been such a pleasure and said, “I don’t come every year, but I thought that this year the horses as a whole jumped so beautifully and performed so well in all the classes.
“You had to win to win. I have never seen that many 90s in one horse show. You had two very veteran horsemen in there judging. It wasn’t people just throwing big numbers. They believed in what they saw. The horses, one after another, just kept coming in and being nicer and nicer. Kudos to the footing, the weather, the jumps and everyone behind the scenes.”
Amanda Murchison Wins the Robin Hill Challenge Trophy
Amanda Murchison has been waiting for the opportunity to compete at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair for nearly 30 years. On Thursday, she not only competed in the Dixon Oval, but she rode away with the Robin Hill Challenge Trophy and Devon blue ribbon in the Adult Three-Gaited English Show Pleasure class.
“It’s a dream come true to show in a place so historic, where so many amazing trainers have shown and so many horses have been exhibited,” Murchison said. “It’s such an honor.”
Murchison and her mount CH Spread the Word have been working together for about two years. In that time, the duo has claimed some of the highest honors in the discipline. Together, they’ve won the United Professional Horsemen’s Association American Saddlebred Adult Amateur Show Pleasure Horse of the Year and the Reserve World’s Champion of Champions Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure.
“I count my blessings every time I get to go through the gate on his back,” Murchison said about her horse. “He was a driving horse when we bought him, and my trainers David and Kristen Cater, and his caretaker Louise are so amazing. He’s been a dream come true for me.”
Unlike Murchison, Sallie-Mason Wheeler is no stranger to the Devon show grounds. The 14-year-old has been competing in the historic show for six years. In the Five-Gaited Saddle Horse Junior Exhibitor class, Wheeler took her chances aboard Bodidly and won.
“It’s my third show with him, and I just wanted to have a nice and clean go,” Wheeler said about the class. “It worked. Next time, in the championship, I have to show against the adults. So, I have to dig in a little bit more, but this ride was nice and clean. This show has a great atmosphere. You get to watch multiple disciplines, and I love it.”
A Devon veteran, who had never experienced the winner’s circle before, won the Park Horse Open blue ribbon. Emily Van Duren rode to her first victory aboard a new mount, My Royale Prince.
“I’ve shown here about six times,” Van Duren said. “It’s my favorite horse show ever. It’s pretty incredible to win here. I’ve always wanted to, ever since I was 11. It’s my first time winning here.”
Thursday marked the second day of competition for American Saddlebreds, Hackney ponies and Friesians at the 2016 Devon Horse Show. Coaching continued as well, with John White notching another victory in the division driving his White Road Coach Excelsior.
(C) ESI Photography. Kevin Babington and Mark Q take the $34,000 FEI Thursday Prix.
Ocala, Florida (February 12, 2015): Day two of international competition in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium at HITS Ocala CSIO4* continued with the $34,000 FEI Thursday Prix, a qualifying opportunity for the $150,000 Ocala Grand Prix on Sunday, February 15. Excitement for the Friday’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ was in the air as Kevin Babington of the Irish Show Jumping Team, and Mark Q, co-owned with Deirdre Bourns, trumped the impressive list of entries, many of which will return as contenders in Friday’s main event.
Fifty-nine competitors jumped the Thursday Prix course of 15 efforts set at 1.50m, designed by Martin Otto of Muenster, Germany. Known speedster Pablo Barrios of Wellington, Florida aboard ZI Group Inc.’s Zara Leandra entered the ring 11th in the order blazing through clear with a time of 70.42 to move into first place. Barrios tipped his hat to the facility’s extraordinary footing for his quick round.
“I’m very pleased with the mare. I think it’s the best I’ve felt with her this year. She feels very comfortable on this footing,” said Barrios.
On top throughout the next 15 entries, Barrios was secure in first until 2014 Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix winning duo Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, Florida and Quality Group’s Quality Girl took their chance at the win. Although clean, a slight hesitation at the last obstacle put Minikus just shy of Barrios with a time of 70.86.
Babington and his bay mount followed the top two and with the advantage of studying the thirty-four prior competitors, he knew his horse’s passion for galloping would play a starring role in the round.
“I looked at a lot of the fast riders at the beginning and thought ‘everybody is getting the same numbers in the regular lines’,” said Babington. “The only place you could really make it up was to take a shot on the long gallop on both ends of the rings.”
True to form, the pair sailed to a clean finish in a time of 69.44, one full second ahead of Barrios to steal the lead.
“I chickened out at the last jump and added a stride there. Pablo and Kevin were right on the pace so that was enough to put me in third,” said Minikus.
“The combination took a little bit of jumping and there were a good few places where you could gallop across the ring, which suited my horse. He’s an Irish Sport Horse, out of a Thoroughbred mare, so he likes those long gallops,” added Babington. “The footing felt super today and when I trotted in the ring, I felt like I was on springs. My horse absolutely loved it and jumped well off it.”
Babington will be one of four athletes representing Ireland as international competition continues at HITS Ocala CSIO4* for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup, presented by Edge Brewing Barcelona, on Friday. Six nations will compete for $200,000 in prize money and a chance to qualify for the FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona later this year.
The starting order of teams for the Nations Cup, which was determined by a draw held in Ocala on February 10, will be as follows: Ireland, Mexico, USA, Venezuela, Colombia and Canada.