Culpeper, VA – Nothing could stop Kevin Babington at the Commonwealth National in Culpeper, Virginia this weekend. He kicked off a win streak with a blue ribbon on Friday in the $15,000 Brook Ledge Open Jumper Prix with his 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Mark Q before piloting Shorapur, LLC’s Shorapur to the top spot in the $40,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis on Sunday.
Babington was one of nine to advance to the jump-off over a course designed by Danny foster of Milton, Ontario. The first round course offered 14 obstacles and 17 jumping effort, including a double and triple combination.
“When I walked the course I never thought that we would have that many clear, but it turned out to be just right,” said Babington. “There were rails down everywhere, which is always the sign of a good design – it was technical enough for the experienced horses, but not too much for the young ones.”
From an original field of 24, Babington went last and capped the jump-off after eight had gone clear before him. The lead changed three times in the jump-off with Thaisa Erwin setting the Great American Time to Beat at 49.98 seconds from the second spot aboard her own Matilda. Three trips later, Frances Land of Alpharetta, Georgia jumped her own Vieanne to a time of 41.91 seconds, to sit first. Jaclyn Duff of Edmonton, Alberta was clear with her own Stakkarus, but her time of 46.57 seconds was nearly five seconds off the lead.
Babington returned last with nothing, other than the clock, standing between him and the win. After a blistering time of 40.29 seconds, Babington and his nine-year-old Hanoverian mare took the blue. Land finished second, Duff third and Erwin fourth. Leann Kelly of Valatie, New York capped the top five as the fastest of the four-fault rides in the irons of Honorway Farm, LLC’s Leander.
Despite Shorapur coming to Babington as a sale horse, he knew the mare had talent from the very beginning. “She is the best horse I have ever had and I made room for her to stay with me and now compete her myself,” he said. “I have really high expectations for her.”
Of those expectations, the most notable include competing in Europe next year, World Cup Finals and hopefully carrying Babington to the Olympic Team for his native Ireland.
A Whole New Look
Rider, trainers and owners alike were met with a new and improved Commonwealth Park when they arrived at HITS Culpeper last week. Months of work led to the unveiling of a laundry list of facility upgrades, including five new MDBarnmaster Barns boasting 520 permanent stalls. Updated tent pads also made an appearance for an upgrade to tent stalls. The makeover didn’t stop with stabling – footing to match the Grand Prix Ring now fills six competition rings as well as all the schooling areas.
“My main focus is always footing and I was very impressed,” said Babington. “I have always been pleased with the Grand Prix Ring footing in Culpeper, and now there is good ground in both the ring and the schooling area.”
Other permanent facility renovations at Commonwealth Park will continue to take place during the coming months with an overall goal to provide both horses and the people they are surrounded by with the safest, most enjoyable environment possible.
Babington admits that while he planned Culpeper as part of his schedule as a convenient means to keep his horses fit after a winter in Florida, he was also eager to see the improvements to the facility. “From great footing to huge stalls, our four-hour drive was well worth the effort. The place looks great and the horses are happy,” he said.
The Commonwealth National was the first week of spring and summer showing for HITS on the East Coast and will continue at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York with HITS-on-the-Hudson I, II and III, May 21-June 2. Grand prix offerings at both HITS Culpeper and HITS Saugerties throughout the season will serve as qualifying opportunities for the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix, which is the final jewel in the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping and will take place during the HITS Championship September 3-7 at HITS Saugerties.
Building on 60 years of experience as Pfizer Animal Health, Zoetis delivers quality medicines and vaccines, complemented by diagnostics products and genetics tests and supported by a range of services. They work every day to better understand and address the real-world challenges faced by those who raise and care for animals in ways they find truly relevant. Zoetis produces a comprehensive range of safe and effective products, including equine vaccines, dewormers and sedative analgesics, to help professionals and individual horse owners keep their animals healthy. Both veterinarians and horse owners know and trust the Zoetis will help their horses live longer, healthier lives.
$10,000 Bayer’s Legend Junior/Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic
Before a top-ten finish in Sunday’s grand prix, Melissa Rudershausen of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania claimed victory in the $10,000 Bayer’s Legend Junior/Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic. She jumped her own Charmeur Ask to the win over a competitive field to continue East Coast qualifying for September’s HITS Championship.
$10,000 Bayer’s Legend Junior/Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic
Jay Land of Alpharetta Georgia was second aboard his own Nepal while Alexa Lowe-Wiseman of Upperville, Virginia capped the top five with Windsor Farm Sales’ Ami du Houssoit. Tamara Morse of Bristow, Virginia finished fourth on her own Heads Up 3E and Laurence Addison of Lorraine, Quebec capped the top five with his own C-Tje.
All high junior/amateur-owner jumper classics at HITS Culpeper are qualifiers for the Bayer's Legend® (hyaluronate sodium) Injectable Solution $250,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, enticing riders to head to Saugerties this fall for the HITS Championship at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. For more information on the Bayer's Legend® $250,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, visit HitsShows.com.
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Bayer Animal Health is amongst worldwide leaders in animal health. Bayer has attained this leadership position by continuously researching and developing products for animal health since 1919. A responsible relationship between humans, companion animals and livestock requires ensuring the health of animals. For more information on Bayer Animal Health, visit bayer.com.
$40,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis
Place Horse Owner Rider Prize $ Rd 1 Faults JO Faults JO Time
1 Shorapur Shorapur, LLC Kevin Babington $12,000 0 0 40.29
2 Vieanne Frances Land Frances Land $8,800 0 0 41.91
3 Stakkarus Jaclyn Duff Jaclyn Duff $5,200 0 0 46.57
4 Matilda Thaisa Erwin Thaisa Erwin $3,200 0 0 49.98
5 Leander Honorway Farm, LLC Leann Kelly $2,400 0 4. 41.38
6 My Pleasure My Pleasure, LLC Peter Leone $2,000 0 4 42.16
7 Mark Q Kevin Babington Kevin Babington $1,600 0 4 43.70
8 Gunner Melissa Rudershausen Melissa Rudershausen $1,200 0 13 57.49
9 Coolio 17 Ali Ramsey Ali Ramsey $1,200 0 Elim. Elim.
10 Noire Helen Goddard Helen Goddard $800 4 - -
11 Superbad The Coverboy Group Amanda Flint $800 4 - -
12 Quincy Car Dr. Fernando Cardenas Dr. Fernando Cardenas $800 4 - -