Riding Shorapur, Babington guided the young mare to take the honours in one of show’s highlight classes.
There was also further Irish success as Richie Moloney earned a third-placed finish which proved more than enough to put him on top in the $30,000 Longines Leading Rider Challenge for the second consecutive year.
Now into its third decade, the Hampton Classic is a week-long extravaganza of world-class equestrian competition staged at Bridgehampton, New York, and features more than 100 classes of competition including jumper, hunter, equitation, short stirrup and leadline classes, as well as competitions for riders with disabilities.
Grand Prix Sunday is one of the highlights of the Hampton Classic, for not only does it feature the highest levels of equestrian competition, but it also draws big spectator numbers including many celebrities to the Bridgehampton show grounds.
The first grand prix at the Hampton Classic was offered in 1977 and had a purse of $10,000. Over the years, the event has grown to such an extent that it offers an impressive purse of $250,000 and features some of the world’s best equestrians.
The Hampton Classic Grand Prix was an FEI-sanctioned qualifier for the World Cup final in Las Vegas next April, and also part of the Taylor Harris Triple Crown Challenge which awards a $200,000 bonus should the same horse-and-rider combination win the $100,000 Grand Prix of Devon, $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix, and the $250,000 National Horse Show Grand Prix.
The Longines Leading Rider Challenge goes to the rider who amasses the most points in the 10 classes that comprise the Hampton Classic's Open Jumper division which featured an FEI-recognised Grand Prix on three consecutive days. They were the the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by Longines, on Friday, the $40,000 Longines Cup on Saturday, and Sunday's $250,000 Grand Prix and FEI World Cup qualifier.
Sunday’s climax saw Babington's day end somewhat better than it started. As the first rider in the ring at 8.00 a.m. for the 7/8-year-old jumper championships, he fell in the water jump. Since he was completely soaked, he had to wear his back-up jacket for the grand prix, the one missing the lowest front button. Babington was quoted as saying: "Maybe I should start wearing this jacket for good luck".
So it proved as later that afternoon Guilherme Jorge's course in the Hampton Classic Grand Prix proved considerably challenging to the 33 riders from five nations who attempted it, with the second half of the course especially demanding.
In front of a crowd of 15,000 spectators, Moloney led the jump-off round but knew before the class that he only had to finish fourth to win the Longines Award, meaning he was guaranteed of that prize, even if he was the slowest rider.
And it was Moloney's compatriot Babington on Shorapur who came in with the fastest fault-free time of 39.16 seconds, just ahead of the USA’s Brianne Goutal who rode Nice De Prissy to second place, also recording 0 faults but a fraction back in a time of 40.34 seconds. Moloney and Freestyle De Muze came in third with four faults in 44.26 seconds, with Ramiro Quintana of Argentina guided Whitney to fourth place, with eight faults in 38.58 seconds.
Moloney's third-placed finish was more than enough to put him on top in the $30,000 Longines Leading Rider Challenge for the second consecutive year, earning 300 points from the week's 10 open jumper classes.
In the final shake-up on the standings, fellow Irishman Darragh Kenny held on to the runner-up spot with 283 points, even though he left on Saturday night for the World Equestrian Games in France. Quintana finished third on 195 points, with another Irishman Shane Sweetnam finishing fourth with 177.5 points.
"It was nice to go into the jump-off and know that I'd done it already. I had a great week, and winning the Longines award was a great way to finish it off," said Moloney, of Wellington.
To start the weekend, Kenny, riding Picolo, recorded the fastest jump-off time to claim the $40,000 Longines Cup, presented by the Crown Family.
Seven of the nine riders who reached the jump-off by recording faultless first rounds repeated their efforts in the jump-off. Kenny, the final rider on course, stopped the clock in the fastest time 40.32 seconds. Quintana riding Versus, came in a fraction slower in 41.73 seconds, with Lillie Keenan, of New York City riding Balance, finishing in 42.53 seconds.
Kenny also led an Irish sweep in the Grand Prix Ring on Wednesday with a victory in the $10,000 Open Jumper class.
Riding Gatsby, his jump-off time of 36.629 seconds nipped Shane Sweetnam on Cyklon 1083 (37.45 seconds) and Sweetnam again on Buzonder (38.38 seconds).
In the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by Longines, Molly Ashe-Cawley and Carissimo emerged victorious as their jump-off time of 43.80 seconds defeated Karen Polle, representing Japan, on With Wings (44.38 seconds) and Ronan McGuigan from Ireland, on Capall Zidane (46.99 seconds).