Local Day at the Hampton Classic Showcases Top Horses and Riders from Long Island
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Sunday August 26 was opening day of the 43rd Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, one of the most prestigious hunter-jumper equestrian events in the nation. Showcasing the highest levels of the sport, the world-class event hosts hundreds of top riders and horses from across North America and abroad.
Opening day at the Classic is always reserved for Long Island’s very own equestrian community. ‘Local Day’ is open exclusively to horses who are stabled in Nassau or Suffolk County for at least 75 days since January of the calendar year, and hosts hunter divisions for amateurs and professionals alike.
The beautiful Anne Aspinall main hunter ring took center stage for the $10,000 Marders Local Hunter Derby, a two-round class consisting of “Classic Style” and “Handy Hunter” components. Of 39 horses to start, Stephanie Bulger’s Hemingway emerged victorious, piloted by Sandra Ferrell.
Ferrell and Hemingway winners of the Local Hunter Derby (c) Shawn McMillen Photography
Bulger, of New York, NY, was Champion in the Miller & Associates Local Amateur-Owner division sponsored by Barbara Borg, with her own Carrica. She cites the Hampton Classic as the very reason she started riding in the late 1980’s.
“I didn’t grow up in a horsey family,” recounted Bulger. “One Sunday my dad and I took a drive and we stumbled upon this event going on. I vividly remember the big blue and white tents. At the time we were able to just walk in and get seats in the bleachers on Grand Prix Sunday. We watched and I was transfixed. I started riding lessons that day. I’ve been riding ever since.”
Carica was Champion in the Miller & Associates Local Amateur-Owner division sponsored by Barbara Borg
(c)Shawn McMillen Photography
When asked what her favorite memory of the Classic is, one would think her numerous Championships, or being an owner of a Grand Hunter Champion might top the list. But it’s much more personal than that.
“Last year my son competed in the lead-line division for the first time here at the Classic. Sharing this magical place with my little boy who loves horses; seeing him walking around the grand prix field smiling and laughing is really my favorite memory of all my Hampton Classics.”
Jenny Dunion who operates Evermore Inc. in Water Mill, had a fantastic local day with her clients and students. “It was a very rewarding opening day for us,” explained Dunion. “One of my client’s horses, O. Edward, was Champion in one of the East Hampton Star Local Professional divisions with Holly Orlando riding, as well as earning the overall Grand Local Hunter Championship for Local Day. The Moulton family’s Privet Farm, LLC is the owner.” They received the Eddie Horowitz Memorial Trophy sponsored by the North Shore Equestrian Center.
When asked to describe the significance of competing at the Classic to the local equestrian community, Dunion was definite: “Not only is this one of the most prestigious and most competitive shows we attend throughout the year – it’s more important because we live here and our roots are here. Our friends and family come, compete and root for each other. Once you have a great opening day, it really sets you up for the rest of the week. It’s nice to be able to shine at one of the biggest shows we go to. We had ten horses show yesterday, and every horse and every rider had a shining moment at the Classic. It’s really nice as a trainer to watch all your riders and all your horses be beautifully prepared, perform well and be rewarded for it. There a LOT of preparation that goes into a show of this caliber, and once you get here, there’s no more training. Holly (Orlando) and I work so closely together throughout the year, it’s really fulfilling that we are able to take a different horse each year and produce it to the level of Grand Champion here at the Classic. We’ve had a great run and hopefully it will continue! We never stop appreciating what it means to win this honor.”
Other Local Day Champions included Emma Siskind of New York, NY, with Chinou, in the Local Junior Hunter division sponsored by Yvetta Rechler-Newman; and Tess Mahoney of Southampton, NY, with Sastune, in the Local Hunter Non-Pro division.
Tess Mahoney with Sastune (c)Shawn McMillen Photography