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Babington Dries Off to Win Hampton Classic Grand Prix

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Kevin Babington, atop his mount Shorapur, won the $250,000 Grand Prix at the 2014 Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton on Sunday.

Kevin Babington, atop his mount Shorapur, won the $250,000 Grand Prix at the 2014 Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton on Sunday.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

Kevin Babington went from blue water to a blue ribbon Sunday at the 39th Annual Hampton Classic, recovering from a wet and wild morning to claim victory in the $250,000 Grand Prix, the Bridgehampton horse show’s signature event.

Babington, an Irishman, rode his nine year-old Hanoverian mare Shorapur to the fastest fault-free jump-off with a time of 39.16 seconds to claim his first-ever Classic Grand Prix victory over three other riders. His triumph came just hours after falling from a different horse and landing in the water jump in the 7/8-Year-Old Jumper Championships.

Brianne Goutal, 25, the lone American rider in the jump-off, also rode fault-free but finished in 40.34 seconds to finish second.

An estimated 15,000 fans packed the grandstands, VIP Tent and luxury chalets Sunday to watch 32 riders compete for the Classic’s grand prize. In the end, four riders, including Babington, Goutal, Richie Moloney and Ramiro Quintana, an Argentinian with roots in Sagaponack, qualified for the jump-off by finishing clean on designer Guilherme Jorge’s course, which proved to be considerably challenging over the course of the afternoon.

Babington said Sunday was the first grand prix for Shorapur with fences set at 1.6 meters (5.25 feet), and that he decided to enter her instead of another horse only after an impressive ride in a $10,000 class in the same ring on Friday.

“I thought she felt a little too brave,” Babington said about Shorapur’s performance on Friday, in which she knocked down two rails. “So I though, okay, you’re ready to step up to the plate now. She won a grand prix recently in Silver Oak and coming off a grand prix I thought she would be confident. I underestimated how confident she would be. She felt fantastic today.”

Moloney, another Irishman who is now based on Long Island, rode first in the jump-off and led his gelding Freestyle De Muze through the course with one rail down and four faults. Quintana, who began his U.S. riding career nearly 20 years ago at Sag Pond Farm in Sagaponack, rode second aboard his Dutch warmblood mare Whitney, but finished with two rails down and eight faults. Babington and Goutal, aboard her stallion Nice De Prissey, both rode clean with the win going to Babington based on time.

Babington’s share of the purse was $82,500, while Goutal earned $50,000, Maloney $37,500 and Quintana $25,000. Michael Hughes, Todd Minikus, Devin Ryan, Karen Polle, Cara Raether, Charles Jacobs, Callan Solem and Liubov Kochetova rounded out the top 12 to earn a portion of the winnings as well.

Moloney’s third-placed finish was more than enough to put him on top in the $30,000 Longines Leading Rider Challenge for the second consecutive year, earning 300 points from the week’s 10 open jumper classes. Fellow Irishman Darragh Kenny held on to the runner-up spot with 283 points, even though he left on Saturday night for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France. Quintana finished third with 195 points and Shane Sweetnam of Ireland finished fourth with 177.5.

“It was a week that seemed every single day what we were hearing was Ireland, Ireland, Ireland,” said Marty Bauman, the classic’s longtime press chief.

In the previous 38 years only twice has a rider representing a country other than the United States won the Classic Grand Prix, with Tim Grubb of Great Britain winning in 1996 and Darragh Kerins of Ireland in 2004. Goutal was hoping for another American win on Sunday, but was just over a second short of Babington’s finishing time.

“I wanted to play it safe, and I played it a little bit too safe,” Goutal said afterwards when asked about her approach to the jump-off. “For me this is one of our best shows in the summer, if not the best, and it’s always an honor and a privilege to be on that field.”

Babington, who rides out of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, became the Classic Grand Prix’s third foreign-born champion aboard an unproven young mare and just hours after drying himself after his early morning spill on Grand Prix Sunday.

“That’s the sport of show jumping,” Babington said late Sunday. “It’s a very humbling sport. You can be on top of the world one minute and be in the water the next.”

Ramiro Quintana, who spent years riding at Sag Pond in Sagaponack, atop his mount Whitney at the 2014 Hampton Classic on Sunday.

Ramiro Quintana, who spent years riding at Sag Pond in Sagaponack, atop his mount Whitney at the 2014 Hampton Classic on Sunday.

Hampton Classic Unveils 2014 Poster Art

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The Hampton Classic Horse Show announced Monday that Julie Freund, a native of Westtown, New York, has been selected as its 2014 poster artist.

The Hampton Classic will return to Bridgehampton August 24 to 31 for its 39th year of equestrian competition.

“In many of my paintings I like to take the everyday images that equestrians see, and create a work of art that is recognizable and yet done in a way that emphasizes the beauty of the sport and of the animal,” said Ms. Freund of her inspiration for the poster, “Paseo.” “Equestrian sport requires training, precise technique and conditioning, just as the act of painting. Both require a knowledge of the materials and patience that when done right produce a wonderful connection to the human center.”

Equestrian sport has always been a big part of Mr. Freund’s life. She has shown in the hunter, jumper, and the equitation classes at many “A” rated competitions along the East Coast ranging from Lake Placid to Ocala, Florida. Ms. Freund attended Bridgewater College in central Virginia, where she majored in fine arts, before transferring to the Savannah College of Art and Design, from which she recently graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting and double minor in equestrian studies and art history. The artist currently works and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she rides and trains sport horses at Vintage View Farm.

 

Opening Day Ready

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Hampton Classic Groundskeeper Richard McGee uses an industrial lawn roller to pack down the soil in the Gand Prix ring on Tuesday, 8/21/12, in preparation for the start of the Classic that Sunday

By Emily J Weitz

The blue and white tents are up. The jumps are neatly arranged. More and more horses arrive every day as one of the most prestigious horse shows in the country, the Hampton Classic, draws some of the most competitive international riders to Bridgehampton for one week every year. The week is upon us.

From August 26 through September 2, the grounds of the Hampton Classic, which spend most of the year completely barren, will be bustling with people and horses. And on the heels of the London Olympic games, many of the most skilled riders in the world are poised and ready to compete.

“We’re so excited that everyone will be able to feel the excitement of the London Olympic Games right here at the Hampton Classic,” says Shanette Barth Cohen, the horse show’s executive director. “These world-class riders will be competing every day and will have their eyes set on our main event, the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix.”

Some riders to watch include McLain Ward, an American-born Olympic gold medalist who has won the Classic’s Grand Prix a record six times. Ward already won the Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon on his horse, Antares F, in May. If he wins at the Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic and then goes on to win at the Alltech National Horse Show, he will win the new Taylor Harris Triple Crown Challenge, which awards a $200,000 bonus to the horse and rider team that wins all three.

Other riders, like fellow American Beezie Madden, Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa and Colombian Daniel Bluman, all competed in London and will be riding at the Classic throughout the week.

On the first day of competition, things get started early, at 8 a.m. in the Grand Prix Ring. The $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge will bring some of the most prominent names of the week to the spotlight for this timed competition. Riders will need to move through one round of a jumping course, racing against the clock.

At 1:30 p.m., there will be an Opening Day ceremony, and quickly following will be the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by MeadowView Farms.

Throughout Opening Day, local riders will also have their chance to shine. Local Hunter Divisions are open to any horse that is housed in Nassau or Suffolk Counties on Long Island for at least 75 days this year.

“Opening Day always provides a great start to the Classic,” says Cohen. “It gives our Long Island exhibitors a chance to be part of the competition and also gives spectators a chance to see some of the best jumpers and hunters in top level competitions.”

In addition to the hunter, jumper and equitation classes taking place throughout the week, there will be activities for the whole family from shopping to dining to kid-friendly offerings. Monday is ASPCA Adoption Day, so guests will have the chance to visit with and perhaps adopt rescue horses, potbellied pigs, and dogs and cats. The finals of the Long Island Horse Show for Riders with Disabilities will also take place. Tuesday will feature the $2500 Marshall and Sterling Children’s Hunter Classes as well as the Triple Crown High Performance Hunter Classes. Wednesday will be the Triple Crown High Performance Hunter Classes along with Short Stirrup and Open Jumpers.

Things begin to heat up on Thursday, with several higher-stakes competitions, including the $10,000 Sam Edelman Equitation Championship. Friday will be the $50,000 Spy Coast Farm/ Young Horse Show Series Grand Prix Qualifier, which will dictate who gets to be in the main event on Sunday.

Saturday, September 1 is Optimum Kids’ Day, and along with a number of major competitions, kids’ events will take place throughout the grounds. Kids are admitted for free, and each child gets a free pony ride. The Laughing Pizza Family Band will perform, as will the Bellini Family Circus and Friends. Magic by the Amazing Zola and face painting by Ruby will also be big draws for the little ones.

“We are excited to host Optimum Kids Day once again as part of our schedule at the Hampton Classic,” says Cohen. “Many families return year after year to take part in all the fun activities that are held throughout the day and it’s become one of the Classic’s favorite traditions. In fact, we have some people who came as kids years ago who now come with their own children!”

Sunday, September 2 will be the fiercest competition, when all eyes will be on McLain Ward and the other Olympic athletes and professionals who are looking to take home the $250,000 Grand Prix prize.

“We know that everyone attending the Hampton Classic this summer will find something exciting to do,” says Cohen. “The thrilling competition, our great shopping, and all of the fun family activities will ensure that everyone who comes to the Hampton Classic will have a wonderful time.”

 

Ward Takes Record Fourth Grand Prix Title

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By Raun Norquist

The 34th Hampton Classic Horse Show concluded Sunday August 30th with a two-time Olympic team gold medal horse named Sapphire, owned by Mclain Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock and ridden by McLain Ward, winning the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier, for a record fourth time.

The Classic has had it’s share of foul weather with several hurricanes and a tornado or two. This year hurricane Danny threatened to continue the tradition but was down-graded to a tropical storm, making an appearance on Saturday with plenty of rain, although not enough to stop the competition, and by Sunday for the Grand Prix, the skies cleared.

The FTI Grand Prix had a field of thirty-three contestants. Thirteen rode the course, dropping rails, refusing jumps, acquiring faults, before Judy Garofalo Torres, on Oliver, a nineteen-year-old from Higher Ground Farms, Dover Plains, N.Y. made the first clean run.

Torres said, “My horse did so well. I did think there would be a few more clears. I was getting pretty excited at the end.” It seemed Torres’ fault-free round was to go unchallenged until the final rider, McLain Ward, on his fourteen-year-old Belgian warmblood mare, Sapphire, aced the course too. The stage was set for a jump-off. There was a short break while the Conrad Homfeld-design course was shortened and reconfigured for the challenging round.

Torres won the tiebreaker and rode first. She made no faults, all rails in place, all jumps made, but the performance was cautious with a time of 56.88 seconds. Ward came out strong, flying over every jump, flawlessly, posting a winning time of 50.81. Third place was taken by Ireland’s Darragh Kenny on Oblelix, of Trade Winds Farm. Kenny was fastest of the nine four-fault rounds.

 “The course was quite difficult. Over the last few years the standard of this horse show has gone up again. Shannette (Barth Cohen, Exec. Dir.) has taken the show to another level. On course, the water line was spooky and caused a lot of trouble and the last line was a little mushy which might be why a lot of rails went down, but the footing held up great,” Ward said.

The jump-off set-up time was not long and Ward, being the final rider, was left little time for horse and rider to regroup forces. Ward said of his horse Sapphire, “She was running out of gas at the end of the jump-off and so was I, but she knows the game and was able to get it done. Either she keeps getting better or I have stopped getting in the way. Hopefully she stays healthy.”

In 2009 alone, this is Sapphire’s seventh win and it is the 118th career win for her rider Ward. “This year we picked the FTI events, they have been very good to us,” with a nod to the win of the FTI $400,000 Grand Prix in Wellington last March.

Ward has a lot to celebrate. He not only won the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix on Sunday, he won Friday’s $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Grand  Prix Qualifier, making him the third rider ever, following Joe Fargis in 2005 and Hillary Dobbs in 2008, to sweep the Hampton Classic’s top two events. If that is not enough he took the $30,000 Fendi Cup on another horse, Goldika, on Saturday, giving him three Grand Prix wins in three days.

Although Torres did not take the ribbon, she did take it in stride. “I have had him for ten years,” said Torres referring to her 19-year-old.  “I wanted this class to be the class of the year, the main event for him.  Coming in second to McLain is very, very exciting. I’ll take it.”

The week of competitions, ranging from the youngest riders in the Leadline and Short Stirrup classes, hunter/jumper classes from children with ponies all of the way through amateurs, circuit professionals and Olympic veterans is over. The tents are coming down, all of the horses and the crowds have left. We have had another year of hosting this great equestrian tradition, attracting the best in the field from far and wide.

Veteran rider, Debbie Stephens, from Florida, a twenty year + participant in the Hampton Classic, said, “The Classic is the Masters, Wimbelton, and the Breeder’s Cup, all in one. We work all year, making the circuit, so as to be primed for this biggest, most important, most prestigious equestrian event of the year.”


Sag Harbor Riders Shine in Classic’s Opening Day

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web Classic Gonzo

By Raun Norquist

This past weekend, the 34th annual Hamptons Classic Horse Show kicked off, with 1,655 horses registered to compete for some of the largest purses in North America, with entrants coming from all over the US, Canada and Venezuela.

Last Sunday was the opening day, beginning in the Grand Prix Ring, with one hundred riders, under eight years old, in their tiny riding regalia dressed up for the parent or trainer-assisted Leadline Class. The official opening ceremonies were kicked off by Olivia Ashley Reed — who summers in Sag Harbor —  the WLIU–FM 88.3 National Anthem Contest winner and then the $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge, won by Hillary Dobbs, who was the youngest ever Grand Prix winner last year. Dobbs, of Sussex, NJ and daughter of CNN’s Lou Dobbs, completed the course in 55.85 seconds.

The opening day is traditionally Local Day and this year Sag Harbor had six riders competing, one of whom was Erica Ferreira, a 13-year old attending Pierson Middle School. Ferreira, who has been riding for four-and-a half-years, took seventh place Sunday, competing in the children’s equitation low on a very hot day decked out in her riding jacket, hat and boots while suffering from a 103 degree fever.

A dedicated young equestrian, Ferreira rides six days a week at Twin Oaks Stables under the guidance of her trainer Kate O’Donnell, another Sag Harbor native.

O’Donnell not only shares her passion through training but also leases her large pony, Shenandoah Palm Springs, to Ferreira, who has outgrown her own horse, Misty Morning. Ferreira and O’Donnell both agree, Shenandoah is good horse for her at this stage of her riding career and by the two 10th place ribbons she won on Tuesday morning, they seem to be right.

This is Ferreira’s third year at the Classic. She competed two years in the Short Stirrup and one year in the Small/Medium Pony class. When asked if she plans to participate again, she said, “Of course! It’s my life. Ever since the first time my mother gave me a chance to ride, it has been to only thing I want to do. I dream of riding.” Karen, her mother, was standing by, nervous, proud and sunburned.

Also competing in the Leadline Sunday were Hollie Schleicher and Carter Grout both riding Little Ripple American Boy. Other local riders included Alexandra Spencer on Alazan, competing in Adult Equitation; Caroline Grout riding Prince Charming competing in the Short Stirrup for the 9 and under group; Emily Rhodes riding Noble and Ferreira on Shenandoah in the Children’s Equitation Low.

Other young Sag Harbor residents ready to ride this week are Hannah Jungck, Anna Nussbaum, Kyla Kudlak, Olivia Bond, and Madeline and Bailey Briggs.


Victory is Young and Sweet

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By John Bayles

Hillary Dobbs, of Sussex, New Jersey, became the youngest grand prix winner in Hampton Classic history last Sunday when she bested four other riders in a jump off to take home $60,000 in prize money and one giant bottle of champagne. During the awards ceremony the 20-year old was handed the huge bottle of bubbly and was asked, “Are you old enough to drink that?”

“I am today,” replied the Harvard junior.

It was clear from the beginning of the eight-day show’s culminating event, that the deciding factor would be a combination jump that proved difficult for a majority of the 34 competing riders. One such rider was three-time grand prix winner McClain Ward who brought home a gold medal from this year’s Olympics in Beijing. Ward, like a number of riders, was perfect heading into the combination, but could not completely clear the last jump. The same combination also saw Todd Minikus thrown from his mount, Ultimo Van Ter Moude, after starting the round fault–free. Five riders, including Dobbs, maneuvered through the combination successfully and finished the round with no faults. Three others managed all of the jumps but came in just behind the allotted course time of 96 seconds resulting in time faults and disqualifying them for the jump off. One of those was Christine McCrea aboard Vegas who came in a mere half -second off course time.

Dobbs was in the unique position of going last in the jump off, which saw a decreased number of jumps and a different course arrangement from the first round. Had she not posted the winning time of 41.13 seconds, another female rider would have become the youngest rider to ever win the event. Nineteen-year-old Brianne Goutal of New York City, a sophomore at Brown University, placed second aboard Onira and posted a time of 42.83 just minutes before Dobbs entered the ring.

“I heard everyone saying Brianne had gone really fast, so I knew I had to go for it,” said Dobbs.  “I had to catch a right angle off [the Wolffer Estate] oxer. It was a risky turn at a risky angle, but with Brianne’s time, I had to take a chance.”

The risk paid off for Dobbs and her 11-year-old Sasha, a German warm blood mare, named Corlett. Dobbs zipped around the course, effortlessly guiding her mount and came in over a second faster than Goutal.

The two youngsters’ finishes said a lot for the future of the sport. They competed against a number of older, accomplished riders including Olympic medalist Jonathan Asselin of Canada. And it wasn’t just Goutal and Dobbs that raised the bar for young riders. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in the VIP tent watching his 25-year-old daughter Georgina make it all the way to the grand prix jump off. And another Harvard student, 19-year old Addison Phillips also competed in the show jumping event that serves as a qualifier for the FTI World Cup of horse jumping.

After the jump off, FTI Chairman Dennis Shaughnessy, said, “We are clearly looking at the new generation of riders.”

The entire week was a coming out party for Dobbs. Her finish in the grand prix helped her claim the inaugural VOX Rider Challenge sponsored by VOX Magazine. The challenge was a $30,000 overall competition. Dobbs also won the $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge on opening day, placed first in the qualifying class for the grand prix on Friday and was awarded the overall National Jumper Open Championship earlier in the week.

But like any rider, Dobbs refused to take the credit for her historic finish and instead praised her mount.

“I owe this win completely to Corlett. She is a remarkable horse

 

 

The Horses Are Coming

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The end of August is upon us and that means two things, tourists galore walking Main Street and horses galore jumping and prancing in Bridgehampton.
The Hampton Classic Horse Show, one of the nation’s premier show jumping competitions, returns August 24 – 31. The Classic hosts exciting hunter/jumper competition from junior levels up to the pinnacle of the sport, grand prix show jumping and culminates with the $200,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier on Sunday afternoon, August 31.
In addition to the world-class equestrian competition, the horse show’s Cablevision’s Kids Day this Saturday will feature performances by members of the National Circus Project along with Alan the Magician and Ruby the Face Painter. Kids can also visit the animals in the petting zoo, Millstone Farm’s miniature horses, and Teade, Huey, and Rodger, the trick-performing horses in the Exhibition Tent.
“Kids Day is a great opportunity for families to visit the Hampton Classic—between the attractions going on in the Exhibition area for children as well as the variety of equestrian competitions being offered, there is sure to be something for everybody to enjoy!” said Executive Director of the Hampton Classic Shanette Barth Cohen.
The $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge and the WLIU 88.3 FM National Anthem Singing Contest will headline Manhattan Mortgage Company’s Opening Day activities this Sunday. The eight finalists in the WLIU Radio National Anthem Singing Contest will compete in a live “sing-off” for the right to perform the national anthem in the Grand Prix ring prior to the $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge, the day’s feature jumping competition.
The sing-off is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.
Opening Day also features hundreds of Long Island competitors, and is highlighted by the popular Leadline competition in the Grand Prix ring, where approximately 100 youngsters hold center stage in the morning.
Headlining Opening Day is the $20,000 Nicolock Time Challenge, a competition that debuted at the Classic in 2003, beginning at 1:00 p.m. More than thirty top show jumping riders and horses are expected to compete in the sixth annual running of this popular speed jumping class. Last year, 2004 Olympic Team Gold Medalist Peter Wylde won the class on Gael Force, a horse that he was riding for the first time.
Equestrians who compete in the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities once again have the opportunity to compete at The Hampton Classic Horse Show on Monday.
For more information on the Hampton Classic visit www.hamptonclassic.com