The Hampton Classic Horse Show is making a number of significant improvements to the grass rings at its show grounds. After careful study and consultation with renowned experts, the Classic is instituting several changes including new aeration and top dressing protocols, improved drainage, and new mowing and watering schedules in all competition rings with the exception of the jumper annex ring, which has an all-weather surface rather than grass.
The Hampton Classic will return to Bridgehampton from August 24 to 31, for its 39th year of world-class equestrian competition. The Hampton Classic features more than 100 classes of competition for horses and riders of all ages. A wide range of jumper, hunter, equitation, short stirrup and leadline classes are part of the Classic’s schedule, as well as competitions for riders with disabilities.
The Classic features six show rings, a boutique garden with more than 70 vendors, and a wide selection of dining options, all on its 60-acre show grounds. The Classic’s world-class equestrian competition attracts many of the nation’s top professional and amateur riders.
“We have made a major commitment to improve the footing in all our grass rings, in particular our Grand Prix Ring,” said Shanette Cohen, Executive Director of the Hampton Classic. “We’ve been working with experts from the renowned international show-jumping facility, Spruce Meadows, in Calgary, Canada, whose grass rings have a reputation for outstanding footing, and with Steve McDonald from Turfgrass Disease Solutions, LLC, to improve the footing in our Grand Prix and hunter rings. With ongoing consulting from both parties, we are making changes that are significant and should have a real impact.”
Changes to the Classic’s famed all-grass Grand Prix ring include the installation of a new irrigation system and a new well. The Classic is also making changes that will give the course designer more flexibility in designing his courses, leading to less wear-and-tear. These changes include moving the bank to the other end of the ring, near the grandstand, and rebuilding the dock water jump to take up a smaller footprint and provide more room between it and the ring wall. The moving of the bank and rebuilding of the dock water jump are being done under the direction and guidance of Hampton Classic board member Conrad Homfeld.
Additionally, the hedges around the gazebo in the ring are being removed and plantings around the double liverpools are being reduced in size. The Classic is also adding perimeter drainage on the eastern and northern edges of the Grand Prix ring to go with what was already in place on the other two sides.
“One by-product of the new irrigation system is that there will no longer be any sprinkler heads in the ground,” Cohen said. “This will be helpful for the course designer as he will not have as many fixed elements to work around when planning his courses.”
The Classic has also initiated a new program for improving the grass itself through a mowing schedule based on the height of the grass, improved aeration and new top-dressing applications, the type of seed, optimum watering schedules, and the use of carefully selected fertilizer and chemical treatments.
“When the work is finished, and with the ongoing new protocols, we believe that the footing in our rings will be vastly improved,” Cohen said. “We thank all those who gave us feedback last year and look forward to welcoming everyone back for what is sure to be a great horse show this summer.”