Kevin Babington Claims Second Consecutive National Grand Prix Victory With Mark Q to Close Kentucky Spring Horse Shows

Kevin Babington and Mark Q
Kevin Babington and Mark Q

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.

Alex Granato and Beorn – third 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 and Amex Z
Todd Minikus and Amex Z – second place

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.

Abigail McArdle and Fanta Light B
Abigail McArdle and Fanta Light B

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 recenlty 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 Baloppi
Lacey Gilbertson and Baloppi

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.

Kentucky Horse Shows will continue at the Kentucky Horse Park for its summer series, which will begin with the Kentucky Summer Show from July 25 through 29. Highlights will include the $5,000 National Hunter Derby and the $50,000 Rood and Riddle Grand Prix. The Kentucky Spring Classic will take place directly after on July 31 through August 5.


Kevin Babington – $35,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix winner

On this weeks plan:
“I wasn’t planning on showing [Mark Q] this week, but my groom pointed out that he would be too fresh for Devon, so I should do him in the class. He’ll have next week off and then he’ll go to Devon. He didn’t do a lot when we were in Wellington, so he needs to get back up and running. He hadn’t jumped a jump since last week. He ended up being great today.”

On Sunday’s plan:
“I was glad that I got to see Sharn [Wordley] go first today because I thought he was quite timely, but he had a time fault. I was planning on doing nine [strides] from fence three to four, but think I ended up doing eight for time allowed. I also left a couple of strides out in certain places just for time and I probably wouldn’t have done that if I had gone early. In the jump-off on Double O Seven 7 I knew that both Alex [Granato] and Todd [Minikus] would be really fast so I wanted to do nine strides down the first line and I lost my footing a little bit on the first rollback and he laid on his shoulder. When I went again with Mark Q I knew that all I had to do was jump a clean round, which sometimes I don’t like, I’d almost rather chase. It was actually a really nice course to go jump a clean round on though.”

On Mark Q:
“He’s 16 years old now so I use him sparingly. But he’s a good old soul. He is heading to Devon next, which he has won twice, so we’re going to try one more time.”

Abigail McArdle – $20,000 Under 25 Grand Prix winner

On her round:
“I thought the course was excellent today. Guilherme [Jorge] makes fantastic courses all the time. With the jump-off, I went second to last, so I sort of knew what I had to do. There was one inside turn I was waiting to see if anyone did. Lacey [Gilbertson] I knew was the fastest in the class, so I asked her what she did on the way out. She went around and did eight strides. I had walked that eight. I am on an 8-year-old that’s very inexperienced so for the eight I was going to have to nail everything just right and I did.”

On Fanta Light B:
“This is a sale horse of Adam [Prudent] and mine’s. She’s an 8-year-old and we got her last year as a 7-year-old. This Florida season I moved her up to the 1.40m and 1.45m [classes] and she had a couple of big wins including at Palm Beach Masters and in the CSI2* in Wellington. With young horses you have to move them up and down and this whole two weeks I’ve definitely been building up to win one of these. Being 8, I think she’s got super potential. She’s a little horse with a huge personality. She doesn’t know what she can’t do yet. I’m going to keep moving her up and making her a grand prix horse until she is sold. I hope to get her into some of the grand prix classes this summer.”

On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“I love Kentucky. The [Kentucky] Horse Park is incredible. The Rolex Ring is great. I was actually able to show in the Rolex a couple of weeks ago which was really nice. I know this ring very well and it’s a good experience for a young horse like this to really go out there and gallop.”


$35,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington
Place / Horse / Rider / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Mark Q / Kevin Babington / 0 | 73.636 / 0 | 47.272
2. Amex Z / Todd Minikus / 0 | 72.294 / 4 | 39.168
3. Beorn / Alex Granato / 0 | 74.973 / 4 | 41.221
4. Double O Seven 7 / Kevin Babington / 0 | 75.069 / 4 | 43.260
5. McGregor / Thomas Cerra / 1 | 76.670
6. Casper / Sharn Wordley / 1 | 76.991
7. Kalisto The Music / Fabio Leivas Da Costa / 3 | 78.841
8. Barnetta / Sharn Wordley / 4 | 71.386
9. Stakko / Aaron Vale / 4 | 73.823
10. Pappa Ante Portas 2 / Eugenio Garza / 4 | 74.593
11. Caillou 24 / Karl Cook / 5 | 76.644
12. Vitel Sourdin / Scott Keach / 6 | 77.252

$20,000 Under 25 Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Fanta Light B / Abigail McArdle / 0 | 83.432 / 0 | 35.025
2. Baloppi / Lacey Gilbertson / 0 | 81.829 / 0 | 35.037
3. Atticus Diamant / Gabriela Reutter / 0 | 79.830 / 4 | 34.707
4. Indy Van De Roten / Catherine Wachtell / 0 | 81.087 / 4 | 34.901
5. Gentille / Kaely Tomeu / 0 | 80.966 / 4 | 35.011
6. Viper Vrombautshoeve Z / Briley Koerner / 0 | 82.343 / 6 | 45.958
7. Pippi / Emma Kurtz / 4 | 75.076
8. Westbrook / Kerry Mc Cahill / 4 | 79.527
9. Luron S Z / Riley Newsome / 4 | 79.642
10. Coverboy / Catherine Wachtell / 4 | 82.434
11. Disaronno VT / Alexis Bowen-Foster / 4 | 82.488
12. Cantero Da Lagoa / Anna Beth Athey / 4 | 83.388

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