LAKE PLACID — Irish Olympic veteran Kevin Babington won the $100,000 Woodlea Farms Grand Prix at the 36th annual I Love New York Horse Show, Presented by Sea Shore Stables, LLC.
Babington was one of 12 entries from the starting field of 32 to reach the tiebreaking jump-off by riding without penalty over the 16-jump, first-round course designed by Richard Jeffery at the North Elba Showgrounds. He was the second to return for the seven-jump tiebreaker and he set the mark to beat with a clean ride in 36.871 seconds on Mark Q.
None of the remaining 10 entries could beat his score with the closest being U.S. Olympic veteran Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, who has been a Grand Prix winner in Lake Placid a record seven times. She rode Royce to a clean ride in 37.387 seconds to place second. Her finish, following a second place finish in last week’s $75,000 Equine Insurance Services/Great American Grand Prix of Lake Placid, earned her the Richard and Diana Perpetual Challenge Trophy for Excellence for the best combined finish in Lake Placid’s two Grand Prix. Third place went to Angela Covert of St. Lazare, Quebec who finished in 38.149 seconds on Utan.
“My horse jumped great in the first round but he slipped early in the jump-off and I knew I had to speed up if we were going to have a chance,” said Babington. “We’ve had a great two weeks here and I thought that we might be able to win one. Given that this was the first time the horse show has offered $100,000, I guess we picked a good one to win!”
Engle noted that Royce is the less experienced of her two Grand Prix horses and is still learning. “He jumps very high which costs him time so I really have to ride him fast,” she explained. “ However, the faster we went, the higher he jumped and we just couldn’t catch Kevin’s time.”