Local Riders Take Grand Stage at Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton

Opening day at the Hampton Classic on Sunday, August 23, 2015 in Bridgehampton, New York.
Hannah Jungck from Sag Harbor at the Hampton Classic opening day on Sunday.
Hannah Jungck from Sag Harbor at the Hampton Classic opening day on Sunday.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Lori Hawkins

Long Island equestrians had their time in the sun this week as the Hampton Classic Horse Show, one of the biggest of its kind in the world, kicked off for the 40th year on Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton on Sunday.

Chloe Hase, a 17-year-old senior at Southampton High School, and Sue Marder-O’Connor, 65, a teacher at Springs School in East Hampton, finished in a tie for the South Fork Perpetual Trophy, awarded to the Grand Local Hunter Champion.

Hase rode Brando to the Local Junior Hunter, Section B, title on her way to the grand championship while Marder-O’Connor rode Tour Guide to the Long Island Pulse Local Amateur-Owner Championship.

“This show is really everything to us,” said Marder-O’Connor, whose brother, Charlie, owns Marders Garden Center and Nursery just up the road from the show grounds. “We define our lives by this show, so this is huge. It made my year.”

Hase has been a student with trainers Mandy and Jagger Topping since she was 8. She bought Brando five years ago, when they were both 12 years old.

“We’ve grown up a lot in the last five years,” she said. “Now we can read each other’s minds.”

Sag Harbor's Emily Wheeler at the Hampton Classic on Sunday.
Sag Harbor’s Emily Wheeler at the Hampton Classic on Sunday.

To start the morning on Sunday, six sections of the SeaAire Leadline Division, for riders 2-to-4 years old and for riders 5-to-7 years old, took over the Grand Prix Ring. Then, more than 600 riders and horses stabled on Long Island vied for the local hunter championships.

Complete results are available online at hamptonclassic.com.

The biggest event of the day on Sunday was the $50,000 iHeartMedia Hunter Derby, which 18-year-old Victoria Colvin won aboard Vaillero. Making her way around two separate courses in the sprawling, grass-covered Grand Prix Ring, Colvin and Vaillero’s score of 182.50 topped Kelly Tropin and Chablis (174.0) and Daisy Farish and Pioneer (173.0).

“I always love to ride on the big grass fields, and these jumps look amazing to me,” said Colvin, who also finished sixth on Avalanche. “These two horses didn’t really look at anything around the ring, but it’s a big view for any horse to go into the Grand Prix Ring here.”

Also highlighting opening day at the Classic was the presentation of the Long Island Sportsmanship Award, given annually to a Long Island horseperson in honor of their years of dedication. This year’s recipient was Karen Bocksel of Aquebogue, who is the managing director of the Center for Therapeutic Horseback Riding on the East End (CTREE), which provides riding lessons and activities to children and young adults with cognitive, physical or emotional disabilities.

On Monday, the Classic hosted the championship finals for the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities for the 10th consecutive year, with riders in three divisions competing for year-end titles. Founded by Katie McGowan of HorseAbility, Inc., the series 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.

“We’re proud to highlight these championships as part of the Hampton Classic schedule,” said Shanette Barth 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?”

Starting tomorrow, Friday, August 28, through Sunday, August 30, the Classic will host three consecutive Grand Prix events. Friday’s $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier presented by Longines will be followed by Saturday’s $40,000 Longines Cup and Sunday’s $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix, also presented by Longines.

Katie Kneeland from Shelter Island jumping at the Hampton Classic on Sunday.
Katie Kneeland from Shelter Island jumping at the Hampton Classic on Sunday.