On Friday, Irish Olympian Kevin Babington sustained a spinal cord injury in his neck after a tragic fall at the Hampton Classic in the $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier CSI4*.
Babington was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital after he and his horse Shorapur both fell at the C element of the triple combination. He has since been transferred to New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, where he will undergo spinal stabilization surgery. His horse was uninjured in the incident.
Babington’s wife Dianna shared an update via Facebook stating that it is still too early to judge the extent of the injury, and that medical details were being kept private at this time. She also credited the outpouring of support as being instrumental in helping the family get through this difficult time.
Daun Imperatore, Babington’s sister-in-law, described the event as a “life-changing and career-changing tragedy” in a Facebook post, but maintains that they are staying positive in regards to the recovery.
Babington and 14-year-old mare Shorapur are neither strangers to each other nor international competition, boasting a successful FEI record that stretches back to 2013.
As the seasoned pair having achieved top placings in 5* competition, it’s easy to imagine that this might have been just another Grand Prix. Babington had previously tested the course with gelding Super Chilled, finishing on the best 4-fault score of the field.
Friday’s fall is a reminder that the sport comes with risk, even to those who know it best.
A medical fundraiser organized in his name has already secured more than 150,000 euros, along with countless words of support.
However impressive, it’s no surprise when considering the Babingtons are known throughout the horse community for their goodwill and generosity. Just last week they offered their Florida farm as refuge for horses threatened by hurricane Dorian. Kevin is also an ambassador of the non-profit JustWorld International.