Hampton Classic Kicks Off On Sunday In Bridgehampton

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The world’s best horses and riders, including Olympic medalists and other Grand Prix stars, head the list of entries in the 38th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, which returns to Bridgehampton on August 25 and runs through September 1.

Highlighting the Hampton Classic is the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier on Sunday, September 1, a qualifying competition for the 2014 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Lyon, France, next April. In addition to the Grand Prix title, the world-class field of riders will be looking to win the new Longines Rider Challenge that will award $30,000 to the rider who accumulates the most points in the horse show’s Open Jumper division.

The Classic’s star-studded line-up of riders will compete daily in the Classic’s open jumper division, which features an FEI-recognized Grand Prix on three consecutive days—the $50,000 Spy Coast Farm/Young Horse Show Series Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by Longines on Friday; the $40,000 Longines Cup on Saturday; and the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier on Sunday.

Heading the list of riders is Kent Farrington, who won the FTI Grand Prix last year on Voyeur. Joining him in the impressive field are Olympic Gold Medalists Joe Fargis, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward, who has won the Classic’s featured Grand Prix a record six times. Ward and Madden, the reigning FEI World Cup Champion, have been teammates on the United States’ last three Olympic teams, including the 2004 and 2008 gold medal teams. Fargis won double gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games, as well as a silver medal at the 1988 Games, and has been champion of the Classic’s featured Grand Prix three times.

Additional Olympic veterans entered to compete include Mario Deslauriers, Margie Engle and Peter Leone of the United States, as well as Kevin Babington of Ireland and Ljubov Kochetova of Russia.

Joining them will be other top U.S. stars including Christine McCrea—double gold medalist at the 2011 Pan American Games—Molly Ashe-Cawley, Georgina Bloomberg, Saer Coulter, Katie Dinan, Brianne Goutal, Charlie Jayne, Quentin Judge, Candice King, Todd Minikus, Schuyler Riley, Hillary Simpson, Callan Solem, Jimmy Torano, Jeffery Welles and Heather Caristo-Williams. Other international stars entered to compete include Darragh Kerins, Richie Maloney, Ronan McGuigan, Paul O’Shea and Shane Sweetnam of Ireland; Jonathon Millar of Canada; Ramiro Quintana of Argentina; and Thaisa Erwin of Australia.

“Once again we are thrilled to welcome many of the world’s best riders back to the Hampton Classic,” said Shanette Barth Cohen, the horse show’s executive director. “These stars of our sport will be competing every day and they will be looking to qualify for our main event, the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix. We invite everyone who enjoys top-level show jumping to come join us for all the excitement the Hampton Classic has to offer.”

The Classic’s FTI Grand Prix is 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 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon, $250,000 FTI Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic and $250,000 Alltech Grand Prix at the Alltech National Horse Show. McLain Ward won the Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon on Rothchild in May and now stands to win the $200,000 bonus should he ride Rothchild to wins at the remaining two events in the Taylor Harris Triple Crown Challenge.

The Hampton Classic has also been chosen as one of only two horse shows in the United States to serve as a Selection Trial for the 2013 Bolivarian Games, a regional multi-sport event held every four years in South or Central America. This year’s Games will be held November 16-30 in Trujillo, Peru.

While the high-level jumper competition will be a draw for many spectators, the Hampton Classic offers top-notch competition in a wide range of divisions. The youngest competitors will compete in the leadline competition, which features riders as young as 2, while many children will also compete in the short stirrup and pony divisions, as well as children’s and junior hunter, jumper and equitation divisions. Opening day is Locals Day, with classes designated specifically for riders, both amateur and professional, who either live or board their horses on Long Island. The $50,000 Hampton Classic Hunter Derby will also be a highlight of opening day.

On Monday, August 25, the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities takes center stage. The show series will hold its championship at the Hampton Classic for the eighth consecutive year. LIHSSRD classes are held at rated competitions throughout Long Island and are open to all riders with a documented disability. Riders compete for points at each show, helping them to qualify for the Series Finals at the Hampton Classic.

No other competition is scheduled for Monday, but the ASPCA will be hosting its fourth annual Adoption Day in the afternoon. Adoption Day focuses on helping rescued, at-risk horses, dogs and cats find permanent homes. Six local animal shelters and rescue groups, including Animal Care and Control of New York City, three local equine rescue groups, and one pig rescue group will have animals on site.

Saturday, August 31, is Optimum Kids Day. Children are admitted free, and there are a variety of events and exhibits geared toward their enjoyment, including free pony rides, face painting and a petting zoo.

Competition in all divisions will continue throughout the week, with the culimating event, the Grand Prix, scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Sunday. For a complete list of the competition, visit hamptonclassic.com.

The daily admission fee is $10 per person (or $20 per carload), with children under the age of 6 admitted free. Seniors are admitted for free on Tuesday through Thursday, while kids are admitted for free on Saturday. Reserved seats for Grand Prix Sunday are $25 per person for bench seats in the grandstand (in addition to $10/person or $20/carload admission) or $35 per person for premium center-section grandstand seating.

For those who can’t make it to the show grounds, WVVH-TV, the official Long Island television station of the Hampton Classic, broadcasts up to five hours of competition and highlights each day during the Classic. ShowNet Vision will also webcast all Grand Prix ring competition at no charge, and competition in other rings on a pay-per-view basis. For a link to this coverage and for more information on the Hampton Classic Horse Show, visit the Hampton Classic website at www.hamptonclassic.com or call (631) 537-3177.

Cailin Riley

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