Bids to ‘win a rider’ raise +$87,000 for injured Irish showjumper

  • The first fundraiser for the newly founded foundation to support injured show jumper Kevin Babington and other riders with spinal injuries has collected more than $87,000 (£67,500).

    The US-based Irishman suffered a serious neck fracture in a fall at the Hampton Classic horse show in August, prompting an outpouring of support from the equestrian community.

    The novel first official fundraiser for the Kevin Babington Foundation asked supporters to “buy” the rider they thought would win the Longines FEI jumping world cup grand prix of Lexington (2 November).

    The highest bidder for the winning rider —18-year-old Brian Moggre riding MTM Vivre Le Reve — won a private lesson with each of five top international riders: Beezie Madden; Shane Sweetnam; Kent Farrington, McLain Ward and Margie Engle.

    Each of the seven highest bidders across the startlist of 39 individual riders won a lesson from either Rodrigo Pessoa, Darragh Kenny, Missy Clark, Cian O’Connor, Tiffany Foster, Laura Kraut and Eric Lamaze. Riders who were unable to bring their own horse would even get the chance to ride one provided by Shane Sweetnam.

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    The USA’s Kent Farrington was the top prediction to win the grand prix, attracting a bid of $10,000 (£7,757); while Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire “sold” for $700 (£544) and Ben Maher for $3,700 (£2,875). The winner of the five lessons secured them for a top bid on Brian Moggre of $1,100 (£855).

    Equestrians have rallied to support 51-year-old Kevin’s cause, with an initial fundraiser to cover his ongoing medical costs securing more than $515,000 (£400,000).

    He has received wide-spread international support for his recovery, with several venues hosting fundraising classes, while US helmet manufacturer IRH helmets agreed to donate a percentage of their proceeds to the Kevin Babington Foundation. A horse called Fairy Tale was also bought by a team of Kevin’s friends and then auctioned for $120,000 (£93,245) at The Ten sport horse sale, while additional donations on the night raised another $137,000 (£106,455).

    There has also been solid support from the Tipperary native’s home country, with Team Ireland wearing gold wristbands at the FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona to show their support.

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