Wellington, Florida, USA – April 25, 2019 – Kevin Babington (IRL) made his mark on the $40,000 Triple Crown Nutrition Spring III Grand Prix at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) last Sunday during the ESP Spring Series.
The Irishman piloted both his mounts Mark Q (Obos Quality x Positively) and Shorapur (Stakkato Gold x Drosselklang) 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 (BRA) and So What HP Z took third place after completing the jump-off course with no penalties and 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.
Kevin Babington (IRL) & Mark Q with Ringmasters Steven Rector during the awards ceremony
“Mark Q was second on Friday and when he came back on Friday, he jumped much better in the jump-ff 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 en. 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.”
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Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media for PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Anne Gittins Photography