By Sydney Masters
The 38th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show opens in Bridgehampton on August 25th and ends with the glamorous Grand Prix Lunch on Sunday September 1st. This $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier attracts Olympians and World Champions to its high jumps and blazingly fast rounds.
Bruce Springsteen, Lou Dobbs and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have all cheered on their daughters as they compete in the open jumpers. Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos beamed as their daughter Lola received the Blue Ribbon in the Short Stirrup division. Alec Baldwin, Julianne Moore, Jerry Seinfeld, Candace Bergen, Billy Joel, Glenn Close, Christie Brinkley, Robert Duvall, Calvin Klein, Mariel Hemingway, Bianca Jagger, Kathleen Turner and Tom Wolfe are all regulars at this 6-day event which comprise of 100 competitions that showcase jumpers and hunters and has classes for riders of all ages including, equitation short stirrup and leadline. The Classic also features luxury shopping, top-notch entertainment and an outdoor food court.
Over 50,000 fans will gather in the stands to watch up-and-coming talents, local riders and equestrian champions compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money. Another 3,000 cognoscenti will enjoy the action and food by Robbins Wolfe Eventuers in the VIP tents and chalets. Olympic veterans Joe Fargis, Nona Garson, Lauren Hough, Peter Wylde, Peter Leone, Chris Kappler, Margie Engle, Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut have all received top honors at this horse show but two-time Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward is the rider to beat, having won the Classic’s iconic Grand Prix a record six times!
The Classic began in the early 1900s in Southampton, but was discontinued after the outbreak of the First World War. It was revived during the Roaring Twenties and thrived for a decade, but was again put on hold until 1952. The Southampton Horse Show became the Hampton Classic, which also serves as a benefit for the Southampton Hospital, in 1977. That year saw the inaugural $10,000 Grand Prix, which was won by the legendary rider Bernie Traurig aboard “Southside.” Since then the Classic has become one of the most prestigious show jumping events in America. In 1981 The United States Equestrian Team was made an additional beneficiary and a year later, it was moved to its present location. Today the classic has “Kids Day,” Senior’s Day,” “Fiesta Day” and the “ASPCA Adoption Day,” which showcases rescued horses, dogs, cats, and potbellied pigs.
This year’s competition kicks-off on the Grand Prix field for what could be argued is the tensest competition of the week, the infamous Hampton Classic Leadline! A long parade of ponies with the next generation of equestrian stars will be judged by Olympic Silver medalist Joe Fargis, while their proud parents and grandparents watch nervously from the V.I.P. tents. Why not join the fun at 240 Snake Hollow Road, in Bridgehampton, NY. •