Claire Stevenson has been riding in the Hampton Classic since she was 8 years old, but she grabbed the coveted blue, red and yellow tri-color ribbon for the first time on Sunday when she piloted Worthy to the championship in the local hunter non-pro division on opening day.
Stevenson, a Southampton resident, rides and trains with Heidi Earle at Firefly Farm in Bridgehampton. Stevenson didn’t know she was going to ride Worthy until Saturday, but the two made a great pair in the Anne Aspinall ring on Sunday afternoon, taking a first and a third in the over fences classes to earn the championship cooler. Worthy is owned by Taylor Sassa, and was imported from Europe last year.
Stevenson said that while Sassa will ride Worthy the rest of the week, Sassa was nice enough to let her ride him in the opening day class. Stevenson said that Worthy—who is called Bird around the barn—has a lot of personality, in addition to talent in the hunter ring.
“He’s like a big pony,” she said. “He loves treats. He’s very cute, so he gets too many treats probably.”
Stevenson said she hadn’t ridden Worthy much prior to the Hampton Classic, which made the win on Sunday even more gratifying.
“It’s pretty exciting to have it go this way,” she said.
Stevenson was one of several local riders who took center stage on opening day at the Classic. Riders competed in a wide range of divisions, with the youngest competitors in leadline classes. Championships were handed out in the local hunter pro division, local junior and amateur-owner hunter divisions, as well as in children’s and adult equitation. In the Grand Prix ring, 14-year-old Victoria Press and Mayfair beat a field of more than 40 horses and riders, including several pros, to win the $50,000 Hunter Derby. Press, of New York City, was the youngest rider in the 42-horse field.