As sixth in the order, Babington and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, who he has been competing internationally since 2016, marked the fourth combination to clear Brazilian course designer Guilherme Jorge’s track. While a number of athletes used Wednesday’s class to school their horses in preparation for Thursday’s highly anticipated grand prix, Babington came to win. He and Super Chilled flew around the course in 60.66 seconds to slide into the first place position, taking over the top spot on the leaderboard from Andrew Kocher (USA), who won the class in 2018, and his own Abelone O.T Lowlands Z by two-tenths of a second.
Throughout the remaining 10 contenders, four more were able to produce fault-free efforts, but none were able to catch Babington’s time, ultimately securing him the win, while Kocher finished in second place in 60.88 seconds and David Raposa (USA) and Iliona earned third place in 61.25 seconds.
Babington is no stranger to the winner’s circle at the Devon Horse Show, having claimed the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon twice in his career in 2011 and 2016 both times with his other mount, Mark Q, who he rode in Tuesday’s $50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake CSI4*, sponsored 5R Farms LLC – Helen Rich.
However, on Thursday, Babington will ride Super Chilled in the week’s highlight event, the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*, which is set to kick-off at 8:30 p.m. in the Dixon Oval.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kevin Babington (IRL) – $36,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4*, sponsored by Herr’s Food, winner
On the competing in the rain:
“As long as the footing is good, I will never scratch in the rain. The ground really held up tonight. You never once felt like you were slipping or getting stuck on course. I’m glad I didn’t scratch.”
On deciding who to show in Thursday’s grand prix:
“I did Mark Q last night and I did Super Chilled today. I was going to make a decision after today about who I would do tomorrow, and I’m going to do Super Chilled. Tonight was a good test with the shadows in the ring and the glare. He has the ability to jump a big track as long as he’s feeling confident, and he felt confident tonight. Mark Q is 17 years old and he’s won twice here before. I didn’t want to push my luck.”
On Wednesday’s course:
“When I walked the course, I thought if I could do the leave-outs, it would really suit me. ‘Chilly’ has such a big stride that if you have to add anywhere it takes you twice as long. Once he stepped up and did the seven, that gave me a lot of confidence to leave out strides everywhere else. If you had to design a course for that horse, this was the perfect course for him.”
On competing at the Devon Horse Show:
“When it’s your home show, you always save your best horse and you sort of build up to it. I always try to have my horses peak at this show. I’ve been teaching in this area for 30 years now so I meet everybody at this show. It’s a really cool place. I came to the [United States] in 1987 and I’ve been in this area since about 1991.”
On his plans for the future:
“This year, I’m not planning on going to Europe. I don’t really have a real championship horse at the moment. I have three nice horses but they’re not championship horses.”