LAKE PLACID, N.Y.--Irish Olympic veteran Kevin Babington finished an amazing first, second and third in the $100,000 Grand Prix on July 7, concluding the Lake Placid Horse Shows' 50-year celebration with the greatest performance in Lake Placid Horse Show history.
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 fence jump-off course.
To continue the domination in the jumper division throughout the two weeks of Babington of Gwnedd Valley, Pa., and Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., Chapot placed fourth on Chandon Blue.
Babington went first in the jump-off on Shorapur, a 14-year-old, Hanoverian mare, and set what proved to be the winning round, coming home clean in 33.212 seconds.
THREE RIDES later, Babington was 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, finishing third 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," said Babington who now has won four Grand Prix in Lake Placid. "I never would have foreseen something like this happening. 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," said Babington. "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 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., together with an engraved grooms bag containing a variety of gifts including bug repellent, tack cleaner and Limber Up
EARLIER in the day, Jimmy Torano of Mohsville, Pa., rode Argentus to win the $15,000 International Hunter Derby.
In winning the Derby for the fourth consecutive year, Torano rode Argentus 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 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."
Canadian Sam Walker completed an incredible weekend, winning two major classes on the final day after winning the $7,500 Chevrolet Low Junior Jumper Classic one day earlier.
Walker, the 2018 ASPCA Maclay National Champion, won the Kathy Scholl Equitation Classic for the second consecutive year.
Walker topped a field of 17 finalists who qualified to compete in the Classic with top performances in equitation over the two weeks of the Lake Placid Horse Shows.
The Classic is open to first and second place ribbon winners of the Hunter Seat Medal, Maclay, Show Jumping Talent Search, National PHA and WIHS Equitation Classes.
Walker then topped a field of 34 horses with two fault-free rides and the fastest jump-off time of 34.663 seconds on Gidora S in the $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
"This mare is owned by Danielle Torano, and she is amazing," said Walker. "This was my first time ever riding her. In the jump-off, I rode her really fast to the two oxers, the one in the middle and the one on the outside, and I think that's where I saved the time that gave us the win.
"In the Kathy Scholl, I just tried to turn in as smooth a ride as I could in the first round and then hold it together in the second round and hope the judges liked it."