By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
Long Island riders had their day in the spotlight over the weekend as the 39th annual Hampton Classic horse show kicked off in Bridgehampton on Sunday.
The show has been ongoing all week and will come to an end this Sunday with the show’s main event, the $250,000 Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier.
This past Sunday, locally stabled horses competed in five restricted hunter divisions. Saratoga, ridden by Holly Orlando of Wellington, Florida, and Tivoli, ridden by Laura Bowery of Southampton, were the Grand Local Hunter Co-Champions. Tivoli, with owner Anne Byers aboard, also secured the Local Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship.
Several young riders from Sag Harbor competed on Sunday, including Lucy Beeton, who rode in a Child Equitation Low/Fences class.
“I thought it went really well,” Beeton said afterward. “It was a pretty straightforward course. I got some distances that I didn’t need but overall I think it was really good.”
Erica Ferrera, also of Sag Harbor, was riding in her eighth Hampton Classic and, coincidentally, received an eighth place ribbon in the Local Junior Hunter category on Sunday.
“That was really, really good today,” Ferrera said moments after her ride. “It was really fun. I love this show.”
Also highlighting the opening ceremonies was the presentation of the Long Island Sportsmanship Award, given annually to a Long Island horseperson who has demonstrated excellence in sportsmanship. Show President Dennis Suskind and Vice President Emily Aspinall presented the award, sponsored by the East Hampton Grill, to highly respected farrier Dave Birdsall, who was the classic’s official farrier, a specialist in equine hoof care, for more than 25 years.
Earlier in the morning, six sections of leadline classes, for riders 2-to-4 years old and for riders 5-to-7 years old, took over the Grand Prix Ring. Carefully scrutinizing the riders was judge Joe Fargis, 66, the winner of the individual and team gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
The hunter jumpers took a break on Monday as the Classic hosted the championship finals for the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities (LIHSSRD), with riders in three divisions competing for year-end titles. Bridgehampton National Bank sponsored the competition and Kevin O’Connor, the bank’s CEO and president, handed out the ribbons and trophies.
Steven Snyder of Brightwaters, New York, won the Advanced Equitation Spotter/Independent class aboard Blu. Alex Donlon of Hicksville won the Beginner Equitation Spotter/Independent aboard Max Marks The Spot and Alexandria Economou of Muttontown won the Equitation With Aids class, riding Keep The Melody.
“We’re proud to highlight these championships as part of the Hampton Classic schedule,” said Shanette Cohen, the Hampton Classic executive director. “The championships are the culmination of the LIHSSRD’s eight-show series, and what better place to host the grand finale than here at the Classic?”
The series, founded by Katie McGowan of HorseAbility, Inc., was created to provide riders with disabilities the same competitive experience that other equestrians enjoy. Riders are judged on equitation, as well as demonstration and knowledge of riding skills.
A world-class field of Grand Prix riders are competing daily in the open jumper division, which will feature an FEI-recognized Grand Prix event on three consecutive days starting tomorrow, August 29, with the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier presented by Longines. The $40,000 Longines Cup will take place on Saturday followed by Sunday’s Grand Prix, which rider Kent Farrington has won for two consecutive years.
On Tuesday, Peter Leone of Greenwich, Connecticut, guided Jewel’s Exclusive Touch to victory in the $10,000 Legacy Stables Open Jumper class. His time of 55.519 seconds nipped Adam Prudent on Vasco (56.091) and Anne Kursinski on Diva (56.295).
Earlier in the day, Richie Moloney, an Irishman who lives in Wellington, Florida, rode Bailey to win the $10,000 Newsday Open Jumper class, finishing in 54.685 seconds. Fellow Irishman Darragh Kenny rode Gatsby to second (54.845), ahead of Jeffery Welles on KM What Ever RV (55.246).