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Luck of the Irish shines on Babington

Irish rider Kevin Babington sweeps top 3 spots to make grand prix history at LP horse shows

Kevin Babington of Ireland celebrates after sweeping the top three positions in Sunday’s grand prix at the North Elba Show Grounds. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — At least this year, the I Love NY Horse Show could probably have just changed its name to the Kevin Babington Show.

On Sunday in the show’s premier and culminating event, the Irish rider claimed the top three spots in the Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix in Lake Placid.

Babington’s performance marked the first time that a rider has swept the top three spots in a grand prix competition in Lake Placid.

The I Love New York horse show was held for the 42nd year, while last week’s Lake Placid Horse Show celebrated its 50th anniversary, which makes Babington’s acheivment the first time in more than 90 grand prix events at the North Elba Show Grounds that a rider has ever grabbed the top three spots.

Babington claimed the victory on Shorapur, the fastest of the three horses he rode in the jump-off.

Babington was joined by four more entries in the jump-off.

Thirty rider and horse combinations took on 16 jumps during the opening round of the grand prix.

Riders in the first round were required to complete the course in 76 seconds with no faults to advance. Seven horses made it through to the jump-off, with Babington astride three of them. Devin Ryan, Laura Chapot and Peter Leone, along with several other riders, took multiple horses through the ring.

The course was altered for the jump-off, but that didn’t stop Babington from putting up three more fault-free rounds to claim $65,000 in prize money for the top three slots. The total purse for the Grand Prix was $100,000.

Babington said his horses performed up to expectations, even if there was a touch of luck in the wins.

“Sometimes it just works,” he said. “They’ve been jumping well here for the last two weeks, and there’s just a little bit of luck involved. On Shorapur, I had a really hard rub at the third to last jump in the first round — it could have easily come down — so it just had the luck of the Irish or something.”

Shorapur was the first horse Babington rode in the jump-off, and their clean ride in a time of 33.212 seconds turned out to be the winning run.

“Normally I would like to have her (Shorapur) last because she’s one of the fastest horses. So she’s a horse if you had the chance to pick her last you would, because you could watch what every other rider does and then put the gun to her head.”

Babington rode Super Chilled into second place and Mark Q to a third-place finish.

“With a lot of horses having faults today in the jump-off, it actually worked out with Mark Q,” Babington continued. “I didn’t have to put so much pressure on him. (Super Chilled) has been jumping great. He’s been knocking on the door for the last few months, so I wasn’t really surprised. If he won today that wouldn’t have surprised me.”

Babington and Shorapur placed seventh in last year’s I Love NY Grand Prix.

“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.”

Senior Sports Writer Lou Reuter contributed to

this story.

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