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Irish rider wins King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead

Irish rider Kevin Babington achieved an ambition when he and Carling King jumped the sole double clear to win this year’s Longines King George V Gold Cup on the final day of this year’s Royal International at Hickstead.

American-based Kevin is a regular visitor to the Sussex venue, where he and Carling King won the grand prix two years ago. The 12-year-old chestnut son of Clover Hill has been based in Belgium for the summer while Kevin concentrates on Super League Nations Cup and commutes between Europe and America.

Heavy rain lashed the venue all the previous night and left the going extremely sticky. However, the sun stayed out all day and the men in the King’s Cup probably enjoyed better conditions than the ladies did in the morning’s equivalent.

“He’s a scopey horse and he’s experienced enough to handle wet ground, although he doesn’t really like it,” said Kevin, whose next outing will be in Dublin.

A delighted William Funnell finished second on the 2001 Horse & Hound Foxhunter champion, Julie Slade’s Cortaflex Mondriaan, a horse he is now thinking of in Olympic terms, while the Cheshire grand prix winners, Andrew Davies and Limbo, finished third.

Helena Weinberg had earlier repeated Kevin’s feat by jumping the only double clear to win her first ever Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Albfuren’s Ramonus.

Helena, who rides for Germany, had previously finished second in the class in her days as a British Nations Cup rider.

“I’m really glad to get this one under my belt at last,” she said.

Sweden’s Helena Persson, a first-time visitor, was runner-up on her big grey, Classic H, with American-based Helen McNaught a delighted third on the lovely stallion Lexicon.

  • Don’t miss a full report from all Hickstead’s classes in next Thursday’s Horse & Hound (31 July).

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