Tag Archive | "Hampton Classic Horse Show"

It Was Ward’s Show

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web McLain Ward

by Raun Norquist


PHEW! The 36th Hampton Classic Horse Show finished up on Sunday September 4 and what a show it was. Hurricane Irene’s arrival on the scheduled opening day, Sunday August 28, caused the competition to be compressed from the usual eight days into five. Riders that might have had several events and different choices of horses were forced to narrow down their attempts making for an even more intense focus than usual.

McLain Ward, of Brewster, NY, as anticipated, made another fine show, having won the Grand Prix the past two years — and a record five times overall. This year he did not disappoint any fans.

Ward said, “I try to make it just another day at the office but that‘s just not reality. I am a competitive person. I don’t really think about the pressure of winning another year, I just think of the pressure day in and day out that I like to win.”

On Friday, August 2, Ward, for a purse of $50,000, took first place in the Spy Coast Farm Grand Prix Qualifier, over Ashlee Bond of Hidden Hills, Ca. There were nine competitors making clear rounds, qualifying for the jump-off.

“I knew there were a couple of fast riders coming in behind me in Darragh Kenny, Ashlee Bond, and my student Katie,” Ward said, “but I was going to try and lay down a tough round and thankfully it was.”

On Saturday, August 3, Ward, competing against himself in the Nicolock Open Jumper Challenge for $30,000, finished first, third, and fourth. He made three clear runs on three different horses, qualifying for the jump off on all three in a field of 14.

Sunday, September 4 was the last day of competition with the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier, and Ward rode Antares F, owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC. The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist tied his own record winning a Grand Prix at the Classic on three consecutive days, and tying Margie Engle’s record for three consecutive years, for a record, totaling six times, twice as many as anyone else.

Seven riders qualified for the jump off. Kent Farrington of Chicago, IL, on Uceko owned by R.C.G. Farm went first and completed a flawless run with a fast 32.96 seconds suggesting everyone else “should go home.” Ward said of Farrington “I watched Kent go and I said, ‘my God, I would like to be in the clubhouse with that round. I knew he had done eight strides to the third jump after the wall and I thought that was the only place maybe I could get him.”

Again Ward silenced the capacity crowd as he and Antares F entered the ring. Their round was swift and perfect with a time of 32.78 seconds, less than two tenths of a second faster than Farrington, besting 33 riders in a 16 jump competition, and 7 jump off qualifiers. Ward said, “I got him by a hair.”

“This is the best show in our country, it always has been,” said Ward.  “I always bring my best horse because I believe that the event that is put on here is worthy of that.  It means a lot to win here, it means as much for me to win this Grand Prix as any.”

The final Grand Prix rider, and the first Russian rider to compete at the Classic, Ljubov Kochetova of Russia, rode to a clear round on Royce, at only seven years old, he was the youngest horse in the class. She finished in a time of 40.11 seconds for third place.

Mclain Ward’s performances over the 5 days of competition were amazing but not the only triumphs. Victoria Colvin, of Loxahatchee, FL, finished first and second in the $10,000 Hermès Hunter Classic on Sunday.  Only one point separated the top two, with defending champion Way Cool, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, receiving the highest overall score of 180 points.  Sanzibar, owned by Karen Long Dwight and Barbara Ridder Irwin, were second with 179 points.  Pavarotti, owned by Teri Kessler, and ridden by Chloe Reid of Washington, D.C., came in third with a total score of 171 points.

Colvin on Sanzibar earned the highest score at 90 points in the first round. Way Cool was second with 89 points. Second round the results reversed with Way Cool finishing first receiving 91 points and Sanzibar scoring 89 points.

Horseability celebrated its 6th anniversary at the Hampton Classic Horse Show, again providing riders with disabilities the competitive experience that other equestrians enjoy.

The Reserve Champion in the LIHSSRD Walk with Aides Division was won by eight-years-old Kevin Allenburg, his 4th year at the Classic. “I started out riding for therapy, but I was so good I started to compete, I like winning, but I really love riding and the horses.” said Allenburg.

Even in the face of adversity, hurricane Irene aside, the show went on. So here’s to another marvelous Hampton Classic Horse Show, our local crowning glory of the summer and all of those pretty horses and all of those hard working competitors. Thanks for the show!





Prizes and Winners

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sp HILLARY-DOBBS

by Raun Norquist

The Hampton Classic Horse Show management and staff have made it happen. Hurricane Irene caused the show to pull down 18 tents with 1600 stalls and another 40 large spectator and vendor tents only to put them back up within amazing speed to accomplish a delayed opening today, Wednesday August 31. The difficult call of dropping the tents last Friday was made by the Hampton Classic Board, their Executive director Shanette Barth Cohen and the Equestrian Manager, Steve Stephens. To their credit the decision was a choice of safety and prudence over financial concerns, even though this meant the compression from eight days of competition into five. Opening day had bright skies, grounds that were immaculate and riders eager to compete.


“Amazingly, we have been able to keep virtually all of our classes including all our local competitions, disability classes and even lead line,” said Cohen. “Anyone who was entered in the Classic will still have the chance to compete in what they entered. Horses started to arrive the first thing on Tuesday and exhibitors are telling us that they can’t believe that we even had a hurricane because everything looks great.”


Brazillian, Guilherme Jorge, for his second year, designed, the Grand Prix course for Sunday’s $250,000 FTI and FEI World Cup Qualifier. This internationally renowned course designer is known for tricky rollbacks, many doubles and demanding tight turns reversing direction. Show jumping rider, Debbie Stephens of Tampa, Florida, a 23-year veteran of the Classic explained, “The Grand Prix ring is grass and has certain permanent jumps. The designer must work with those jumps and those of the sponsors to create a safe but exciting, and challenging course. Although Bridgehampton received only 2-inches of Irene’s rain, the points of take off and landing can take a beating, making the ground slippery. Many riders while competing on grass will use cleats to compensate for the quality of the turf but the balance of the week promises blue skies, so by Sunday the Grand Prix ring should be perfect.”


“The Hampton Classsic is a different sort of course than most horse shows,” Stephens says. “Horses have only peripheral vision, and in this ring they are surrounded by spectators on all sides, the permanent hazards like hedges, a water  feature, a mound and the course that gets reconfigured. There is much to distract them. The riders must overcome the horse’s natural instincts with skill, trust and cleats. This horse show is a must in preparation for the Masters at Spruce Meadow and the only one of its caliber, not just for prizes but also for the quality of the rings and grounds.”


Last year’s five-time Grand Prix winner, McLain Ward, will return to compete but not on his famous mare, Saphire, who will sit this one out for health concerns and in preparation for competition in London for the Olympic Games. He will be riding Antares of Brewster, New York for the Grand Prix. Other returning riders to look for are Shane Sweetnam, Darragh Kenny, Peter Leone and Hillary Dobbs who won the Opening Day Wolffer Estate sponsored Grand Prix ring event, with a doubled purse for a total of $15,000 with a flawless run at 53.120 minutes.


Among the changes: Short Stirrup will compete on Thursday starting at 8 a.m. in the Annex. Adult Equitation will begin in the Annex on Friday at 9 a.m. On Saturday Local Junior Hunters, Local A-O Hunters will begin at 8 a.m. in Hunter Ring 3 and Children’s Equitation will begin at 8 a.m. in the Annex. Sunday, the greatly anticipated Leadline Class for the 2 to 7 year olds, will be held in Hunter Ring 1 starting at 8 a.m. with the LIHSSRD in the same ring, starting at 2 p.m.


The Classic’s revised show schedule is available on line at www.hamptonclassic.com. The Classic is also providing frequent updates on its Facebook page.



McLain Ward Takes the Fifth

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web M.W.#2

By Raun Norquist

The champagne has been poured and the tents are gone, along with the horses and their riders, marking the end of the 35th Hampton Classic Horse Show.

Of all the riding talent showcased during the week, in the end it was McLain Ward’s show. The two-time Olympic Team Gold Medalist and last year’s Hampton Classic Grand Prix winner won again. He took home the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup, adding to the record he already holds. It is his fifth win overall and he is the third horse/rider combination to win the FTI Grand Prix in back-to-back competitions.

Ward had a week of fine performances including a win on Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms of Bridgehampton, for $7,500 in the Open Jumper Class on September 1. On September 4, while riding Pjotter Van De Zonnehoeve, owned by Louisberg Farms, Ward took second place in the $30,000 FENDI Open Jumper. But it was on his own trusty steed Sapphire, that he completed two flawless rounds winning the Grand Prix with a time of 40.85 seconds. The capacity crowd erupted from a hush to an explosion of cheers.

The FTI Grand Prix course, designed by Brazillian, Guilherme Jorge, new this year to the Classic, attracted 36 riders for Round 1. Only four completed faultless first rounds, qualifying for the jump-off. Darragh Kenny, 22, of Ireland and the youngest on the roster, had the unenviable first position on Obelix of Trade Wind Farms. He made a clear round with a time of 44.04 seconds. Margie Engle of Wellington, Fla. on Indigo, owned by Gladewinds Farm Inc. and Shay Griese, went next but had a knock down rail early in the round, earning four faults and eventual fourth place. Third to go in the jump-off was Jimmy Torano riding Vince from Bynum Farms, Fla.

Torano had a clear round and took the lead with 42.93 seconds but his glory was undone by Ward. Torano was bested by only 2.08 but was gracious in defeat.

“To me, being second to McLain and Sapphire is a win,” remarked Torano. “In my opinion, he is the best rider in the world and Sapphire is as good as it gets.”

“I owe her my career,” said Ward of Sapphire, his 15-year-old mare whom he debuted at the Hampton Classic nine years ago. “Sapphire is not naturally a fast type horse, she has learned to be fast. I was very acutely aware that I needed to put the ‘pedal to the metal’ and not get caught sleeping.”

“As I said 100 times before, she is a spectacular partner and just keeps coming through,” he added. “This has always been an important event to me. This is a great show and probably the most prestigious class in the United States, so it’s always a nice event to win.”

Other noteworthy performances include Peter Leone’s win of the $20,000 Nicolock Challenge on opening day. Alida Rose won the 2-to-4 year old and Heidi Horowitz won the 5-to-7 in the Leadline Competititon. Darragh Kenny had the “luck of the Irish” on his side taking a double header, winning the Brown Harris Stevens and Newsday Open Jumper Classes in the Grand Prix ring Tuesday. Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm’s “Belle Bleu S” blew away competition in the $7,500 Wölffer Estate contest. Mario Deslauriers, of New York found his way to the top of the class in the $50,000 Spy Cost Farm Grand Prix Qualifier.

Eye Spy a Swell Horse

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Sophie Thoerner has only been riding Eye Spy for a year, but anyone watching the two compete this week at the 33rd annual Hampton Classic Horse Show would’ve had a hard time believing that. The 15-year-old Pierson student looked poised and professional atop her mount, like she’d been riding the horse forever.
Thoerner and Eye Spy won Reserve Champion in the local juniors Hunter class on Sunday after placing second in two events and fourth in another. Later on Sunday in the equitation round, in which riders are judged on their poise and posture while on the horse, the two placed second in a field of 40. And on Tuesday Eye Spy and Thoerner grabbed sixth place in the Marshall and Sterling qualifying medal class.
After the equitation round on Sunday, Thoerner said her horse “killed it” after breezing around the course and nailing every jump. But the relationship between the two has not always been so sweet.
“When I first got her she was crazy and I needed to figure out for myself how to ride her,” said Thoerner.
She first hoped on Eye Spy at Twin Oaks Stables in Bridgehampton less than ten months ago. And it was a battle up until late spring when the two traveled to New Jersey for the Garden State Horse Show.
“Maybe the week before Garden State she was still being crazy, but then I was more patient and more relaxed and then when we got to the show we were double champion and I won every class we competed in,” she said.
Whatever chemistry the two developed in New Jersey clearly carried over to the Classic this week. She said it wasn’t until this week that she truly realized “what an amazing horse” she had.
This was Thoerner’s fourth Hampton Classic, but it was her first on a horse. The last three years she rode ponies.
“I figured the pony out quickly,” said Thoerner. “Horses are much more difficult.”
Her love affair with riding began when she and her father would ride in the Dominican Republic while vacationing there. At the time they lived in the city, but began coming out for the classic when she was eight years old. Two years later, she was competing.
Thoerner has been riding every day for at least an hour for the last five years. This year, she thought about playing soccer in the fall at Pierson. But then she changed her mind.
“In other sports you work as a team but you can communicate with a language,” she said. “ But with a horse you can’t use language to tell them what to do. You have to have them trust you.”
Based on the way the two communicated on Sunday and Tuesday, it’s clear Thoerner is doing something right. Maybe she speaks horse.

Top photo: Sophie Thoerner and Eye Spy in the equitation round of the local junior Hunter class last Sunday at the Hampton Classic. photo by John Bayles