It was Ladies First in Thursday’s $40,000 SOVARO® FEI Speed Stake presented by Lisa & Mario Deslauriers and Lynn Tarnopol, as two-time US Olympic medalist Leslie Burr-Howard and mare Donna Speciale blazed to the top of the class at the 43rd Hampton Classic.

Leslie Burr-Howard and Donna Special won the $40,000 SOVARO FEI Speed Stake presented by Lisa & Mario Deslauriers and Lynn Tarnopol. © Shawn McMillen
The pair won this class in 2016, the last time Donna Speciale competed at the Classic.

With a final time of just 59.71 seconds over the winding 14-effort course designed by Canada’s Michel Vaillancourt, they were the only pair to post a sub-minute time of the 46 who started.

Mexico’s Santiago Lambre was second with Dingeman in 61.79 seconds, and Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam third with Cyklon in 62.48 seconds.

Burr-Howard likens her fleet-footed mount to a ‘cutting horse’ in terms of instinct and reflexes, two very positive attributes in a top speed horse.

“She instinctively has a sense of where the next jump is,” described Burr-Howard. “If you just lean a hair to the right she knows the next jump is to the right, and vice versa. She’s very intuitive that way. She’s very attuned to the weight of the rider shifting. And she’s game.”

Burr-Howard continued: “She trusts herself incredibly. She really has tremendous self-confidence, even around the barn. She’s the alpha female for sure - It’s her way or the highway. But in the ring she just does it faster and quicker than the others. Can’t fault her for that!”

Jane Ware and Alonzo III, Co-Winners of the $1,000 Citarella Adult Amateur 1.10m Jumper Class. © Shawn McMillen
In the Jumper Annex ring earlier in the day, Jane Ware and Alonzo III were co-winners with Wes Edens and Ubbie D’Ondreville in the $1,000 Citarella Adult Amateur 1.10m jumper class.

Ellen Toon rode JT Farm’s Gabriel to the win in the $2,500 Adult Amateur Hunter Classic sponsored by Firefly. The pair received the Robert Hoskins Perpetual Trophy. Second place went to Christina Thomson with Santiago, third to Katie Robinson and Granblue.

There was a tie in the Adult Amateur Hunters Thursday, as the points over fences were an exact match between two competitors. Co-Grand Champions for the Meadowview Grand Adult Amateur Hunters are Stephanie Bulger with Moshi, and Cynthia Sulzberger with Coeur de Leon.

Co-Grand Champions in the Adult Amateur Hunter Division - Stephanie Bulger and Moshi and Cynthia Sulzberger with Coeur de Leon. © Shawn McMillen
$30,000 LONGINES Rider Challenge Update:

Ireland currently sits first and third in the $30,000 LONGINES Rider Challenge, with Mexico’s Santiago Lambre (180 points) sitting in second between leader Shane Sweetnam (205 points) and four-time winner Richie Moloney (164 points) who sits in third.

Friday’s jumper competitions continue all morning, leading up to the afternoon feature in the Grand Prix ring, the $75,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier-CSI****presented by LONGINES. Riders hoping to participate in Sunday’s $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix-CSI****presented by Douglas Elliman will need to complete this class first – it will be a fantastic preview of what’s to come on Grand Prix Sunday at the Classic.

Hunters will continue Friday in the Anne Aspinall ring with Small and Large Junior hunters, Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner 36+ hunters and the GiGi New York Amateur-Owner 18-35 hunters.

The Hampton Classic showcases more than 1,600 horses competing in 200 hunter, jumper and equitation classes in six show rings. The schedule features competition for horses and riders of all ages and abilities, ranging from children’s leadline classes all the way up to the grand prix show jumping with Olympic veterans that come from all across the U.S. and abroad. The Classic, which also hosts classes for riders with disabilities, offers five FEI classes, culminating with the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI4* Presented by Douglas Elliman on Sunday, September 2.