With his riding cap raised in his right hand, Kevin Babington rode atop Mark Q around the perimeter of the Dixon Oval after capturing first place in the Grand Prix at the Devon Horse Show.
The Irish native rode the horse to a clean ride of 46.927 seconds in the event's second-round jump under the lights and in front of a standing-room-only crowd. With the win he captured the $100,000 grand prize.
Babington said it wasn't the biggest win of his career, as he had won some major events in Europe. But he said it was his biggest win in the United States.
The horse was new and ran a "little hairy" in the first round, he said.
"He's a fighter, an absolute fighter," Babington said of his horse, which is owned by a friend in Ireland.
The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair runs until Sunday, and it celebrates the traditions of the Main Line. The Grand Prix was named Devon's most exciting and important event beforehand by public address announcer Peter Doubleday. It is one of the nation's premier show jumping contests.
About four or five weeks ago, Todd Minikus was hunched over in a golf cart at his Florida farm. The rider said he had contracted Legionnaires' disease, the latest in a string of illnesses that plagued him in the months leading up to Devon. Ever resilient, Minikus battled back and captured third place at the Grand Prix.
Callant Solem, who finished in second place, said the sport of show jumping was better with Minikus, as he makes other riders more competitive.
"It's good to be back showing. We'll have to see what the summer brings," Solem said.
Solem finished just over two seconds behind the leader. In the event's first round, Solem rode two horses to two clear rides, including Magic Cruise, who finished the course in 69.95 seconds. That horse's ride brought a loud ovation from the crowd. Solem's other horse, VDL Torlando, finished with a time of 79.55.
Each of the 20 horses rode once through the elaborate set that contained 12 individual jumps and then a set of three consecutive jumps to finish the course. After the first round, each horse took part in a jump-off, which consisted of a quick stretch of jumps.
Devon Horse Show
Where: Lancaster Pike and Dorset Road, Devon.
Friday: Carriage racing, singles and pairs racing through hazards and cones, 8:45 p.m.
Wells Fargo stage coach will appear during afternoon and evening performances.
Saturday: Carriage racing, singles and pairs racing through hazards and cones, 7:45 p.m.
Tickets: advance sales, 610-688-2554; country fair office, 610-525-2533. General admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and seniors 65 and over. Reserved grandstand tickets are available ranging from $12 to $50, depending on the performance.
Starting at 7:30 a.m.
Amateur Owner Jumper-II, 2(b)
A/O Hunter 18-35
A/O Hunter 18-35
A/O Hunter Over 35
A/O Hunter Over 35
A/O Hunter Over 35 U/S
A/O Hunter 18-35 U/S
Hunter Country Pleasure
Three Gaited Pleasure - Jr. Exhibitor
Roadster Pony - Limit
Three Gaited - Jr. Exhibitor
Five Gaited - Jr./Novice
Hackney/Harness Pony Pleasure Driving
Five Gaited Pleasure
Country Pleasure - Jr. Exhibitor
Harness Pony - Limit
Amateur Owner Jumper
Starting at 8:30 a.m.
Local Hunter-Owner to Ride
A/O Hunter 3'3"
A/O Hunter 3'3" U/S
Starting at 7:30 p.m.
Open Jumper-Gambler's Choice
Coach Horn Competition
Park Horse Stake - Amateur
Western Country Pleasure Ch.
Fine Harness Championship
Hackney Pony Ch. - Amateur
Friesian Pleasure Ch.
Three Gaited Stake
Hackney/Harness Pony Ch. - Amat.
Pleasure Driving Championship
Roadster Pony Championship
Five Gaited Stake