The twenty-horse field in tonight's $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon read like a Who's Who of the Show Jumping world. Two time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward, 2010 winner Peter Leone, Kate Levy, Todd Minikus and Kevin Babington just to name a few. The jumps were high; 150-160 m, the crowd was huge, and the competition was fierce over Olympic Course Designer Olaf Petersen's challenging track.
In the end, it was Kevin Babington on Richard Burns' Mark Q and Callan Solem on VDL Torlando owned by the Torlando Group who posted the only double clear rounds for the night to finish first and second respectively. Todd Minikus on his own Pavarotti posted the fasted 4-fault jump off round after going clean in round one to round out the top three.
Babington talks about his plan of attack for Petersen's course. "I took an inside turn to the triple bar, I knew I was slow and I was hoping to get a better shot to the third jump in the jump-off and I met that a little bit slow, and did the six which I planned. I got a little bit slower distance back on the double than I had hoped, so I was kind of half deciding when I went in do I do the inside turn, and then I thought if I have any chance of winning, I have to do the inside turn to the triple bar. When I came out, I knew there was definitely room to beat my time."
Mark Q and Babington have only been together a few short months. The horse was purchased by his Irish owner who gave Babington the ride during Florida where the duo had good results. The owner has since given Babington the opportunity to put a group together to keep the horse that he feels has tremendous potential.
Although Babington hails from Ireland he calls Pennsylvania home, making the victory even sweeter. "This is fantastic. Every student I've probably ever given a lesson to from New Jersey to Pennsylvania is here tonight. All day I've been meeting people I haven't seen in 20 years. This is definitely one of my best wins here in the United States."