Lifestyle: Spotlights

Hampton Classic Best In Show

By Rachel Bosworth - August 17, 2018

Taking place in the week leading up to Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, the Hampton Classic Horse Show is one of the season’s most exciting events. As one of the country’s biggest and most prestigious equestrian competitions, the 43rd annual show will welcome the nation’s top horses and riders to compete against one another on the 60-acre showgrounds in Bridgehampton. More than 1,600 horses are expected to compete in 200 hunter, jumper, and equitation classes in six show rings with riders of all ages and abilities.

“The Hampton Classic offers something for everyone,” says Shanette Barth Cohen, the Classic’s Executive Director. “We feature the nation’s best horses and riders and a full array of attractions for every member of the family, whether fans of the sport or not. We are so excited to welcome everyone back this year as we celebrate the Classic’s 43rd annual event.”

Riding has long been an attractive feature of owning a home in the Hamptons. The annual horseshow in Southampton first took place in the 1900s in the open fields overlooking Lake Agawam. When World War I began the show was discontinued until the beginning of the roaring 1920s. In 1922, the Southampton Riding and Hunt Club was founded and construction began on just 20 acres of land. Its long history continues, fluctuating in success during the Great Depression and World War II. During the latter, the club was eventually disbanded. The clubhouse, stables, and horses were sold.

Revived again in 1952 through 1958, the Show had lost its glamour and enthusiasm still. It wasn’t until 1959 when Mrs. Morris Scott Wadley helped to redefine the show as a fundraiser for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton. By the late sixties, horses and riding began to gain traction again. In 1971, Mrs. Edwin M. Schwenk, Jr. managed to revive it yet again. This was the start of the modern-day Hampton Classic Horse Show as it is known today.

There is excitement to be found in and out of the ring. The Boutique Garden will feature more than 70 vendors selling various goods and delicious dining options. Find live edge furniture and antique reclaimed wood from Antique Lumber Modern Millwork in Wainscott. Stock your pantry with premium aged Italian balsamic vinegar, plain and infused California extra virgin olive oil, and related condiments from The Vinegar Store of Westhampton Beach. Clean lines and fun prints for the young at heart can be found at Southampton’s Gretchen Scott Designs. Mobile equestrian lifestyle boutique, Hunt Ltd., will also setup shop selling clothing, jewelry, and accessories. The Styliner Truck by Joey Wölffer will also be onsite.

What would one of the most exciting events in the Hamptons be without food? Gourmet offerings run the gamut from Asian to Mexican fare, and everything in between. Taste Thai specialties by Boa Thai Asian Fusion, Greek classics from G&L Gyro Corp, sweet and savory crepes and handmade French macaroons from La Crepe c’est si Bon, Saaz Indian, Toro Tapas and Tequila, and sip refreshing lemonade, limeade, and orange juice served fizzy or flat from Harry’s Fresh Squeezed Juices. Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs will serve sandwiches, salads, and pizza at the VIP Concession.

Celebrity sightings are abounding during the events. Among those in attendance at last year’s Classic were Jimmy Fallon, Mariska Hargitay, Brooke Shields, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Michael Bloomberg, Ramona Singer and LuAnn de Lesseps, Donna Karan, James Lipton, and Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The Hampton Classic is also known for their sought-after souvenirs, including the poster designed by a different artist each year. For 2018, the selected artist is Jennifer Brandon of Waverly, Pennsylvania. “Jen Brandon’s piece is beautiful as it exudes the action of show jumping competition,” Cohen says. “We are delighted with the committee’s selection. And, we’re thrilled the original artwork was on display and available for purchase at Brandon’s booth at the Longines Masters New York.”

Brandon, who is attending her seventh Hampton Classic this year, says “I’m honored to have my work chosen as the image for the Hampton Classic Poster for 2018. It’s exciting each year to see what inspiration is featured on the poster, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!”

Brandon has a special connection with the sport having grown up riding and raising horses. This connection to animals is evident in her various other works. The selected piece titled “A Splash of Red” is a 24”x24” oil on canvas with vibrant colors depicting a horse and rider.

“I was drawn to the comradery between this horse and rider – a beautiful pair,” Brandon describes of the painting. “The striking contrast of the black horse in all its power and motion against the vast blue sky created a harmonious energy that I found irresistible.”

As with many large-scale events on the East End, the Hampton Classic also aims to give back by supporting local charities. Now in its third year, Jump for Charity pairs ten equestrian team captains and charities with a connection to the local community. As the top riders compete their associated charities will have an opportunity to win prize money to support their various causes. The Friday feature class for the $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier will also set the participant list for Sunday’s $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix.

Spectators will watch in anticipation as the world’s best riders and horses compete for the top spot. The show runs from August 26 through September 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10 per person or $20 per carload. Whether you go to watch the competition, shop and dine, or simply just enjoy one of the last major events of summer in the Hamptons, this special event is one you won’t want to miss.

“There’s no more significant horse show in the country,” says two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and six-time Hampton Classic Grand Prix Champion McLain Ward. “I’d rather win here than anywhere else.”

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