From its origin as a quaint local horse show to one of the top equestrian competitions on the international circuit, the Hampton Classic celebrates its 44th year in style. Held in Bridgehampton from August 25th to September 1st, 2019, the show will welcome 50,000 spectators and 1,500 horses with riders from all over the world competing for $800,000 in prize money and prestigious titles. The six show rings will feature all levels of competition both amateur and professional, from adorable youngsters on ponies for the Lead Line class to Olympic and world champions in the signature grass grand prix field which just underwent a million-dollar renovation to keep pace with the top footing for these four-legged athletes. Since 1977, the Hampton Classic has raised more than two million dollars for its official charity partner, the Southampton Hospital.
Shanette Barth Cohen, Executive Director comments, “I think one of the great things about the Hampton Classic is there’s something for everyone — not just world class equestrian competition, but amateur competition, fantastic shopping, a kids’ area, and amazing international food options. Unlike a lot of shows, the Classic attracts an audience well beyond traditional fans of the sport. For many it’s their only contact with show jumping. I love that we get a chance to introduce so many to our sport and turn many into actual fans.”
Over the course of the week, spectators can watch the fine horsemanship shown in the equitation classes, the beautiful grace of the hunters and the excitement of the jumpers where horses race over fences to see who can be clear in the least amount of time. There are many highlights but one which is near and dear to the community is the finals for the Long Island Horse Show Series For Riders with Disabilities. These courageous equestrians get to compete in the same place as their Olympic heroes and enjoy the support of the cheering fans. Equestrians are also devoted to their love for animals, and top riders such as Georgina Bloomberg come out to support the animal welfare and adoption day which work with both local animal shelters and horse rescues such as the EQUUS Foundation. Many other equestrian and local charities are a part of the Hampton Classic with activations through the week including Jump For Charity with top show jumpers signing hats to raise money for the various causes.
A longstanding fixture of the Hamptons summer social scene, the Hampton Classic is also a see and be seen destination for leaders in business, media, entertainment and politics. Among those who have attended the Classic in recent years are Jerry Seinfeld, Kelly Ripa, Sofia Vergara, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, Julianne Moore, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Brooke Shields, and Jennifer Lopez. The VIP tent on Grand Prix Sunday hosts guests dressed to the nines in their equestrian chic and show stopping hats. The tables in the tents are also gloriously decorated with floral and creative table top accoutrement to compete for the prize of the best decorated table. This year the main event is the $300,000 DOHA.INC Grand Prix which will challenge the best riders and steeds in the world to compete over an exhilarating jumping course to see who will get top honors. Last year USA’s McLain Ward, who is a repeat Classic rider and winner, rode HH Gigi’s Girl for the first-place prize. He will be the rider to beat especially as part of Team USA, he just won Gold in the World Equestrian Games for show jumping last fall. Shane Sweetnam of Ireland is another strong contender winning last year’s Longines Rider Challenge as the leading open jumper rider. Many nations’ flags will be flying throughout the week as riders from many nations descend on the Hamptons.
And since man or woman cannot live by sport alone, the venue has a chic Boutique Garden and other shopping areas with 80 different vendors from equestrian wear and lifestyle to jewelry, clothing, art, beauty products and accessories. You can even peruse luxury Jaguar and Land Rover cars and boats from Strong’s Marine. A dozen international food options range from a burger and a beer to grand prix ringside champagne. Kids will enjoy not only learning about horses but pony rides, a petting zoo and daily activities in the Kid’s Area.
In 2009, the Hampton Classic became only the second horse show ever to receive the status of Heritage Competition by the United States Equestrian Federation. This prestigious status is reserved for competitions that have been in existence for at least 25 years and have provided for their communities as well as the horse community as a whole in an unprecedented fashion. It has become such a favorite that fans simply say, “Meet you at The Classic.” For riders from other parts of the country or the world, the allure of the Hamptons with its beaches, farms, boating and top culinary stops and shops make it even more desirable, and some even decide to make it home.
Daily admission is $10 per person (children under six are admitted free) or $20 per carload. Free General Admission on Monday, August 26 (limited competition this day, but boutiques, exhibition tent, and Animal Adoption Day are open). Seniors are admitted free Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Saturday (August 31), children under 12 are admitted free and receive a FREE pony ride. Parking is FREE.