Clearing the Hurdle

The games are on at this all-encompassing horse show in the Hamptons

Credit: Shawn McMillen

Credit: Shawn McMillen

Every year, rain or shine, Bridgehampton marks the end of the summer season with The Hampton Classic, one of the biggest and most extravagant social bashes in the area as well as one of the largest and most prestigious outdoor horse shows in the country. Famous for celebrity sightings and a magnet for some of the best riders and horses in the world, the competition is often fierce and its rewards great, as winners can leave with significant cash prizes as well as the adoration of many observers.

Now into its third successful decade, The Hampton Classic Horse show is a premier “jumping” event and world class equestrian competition that is in a class all its own, both in the minds of spectators and horse people alike. With roots dating back to the early 1900s, the show has undergone numerous transformations over the years leading up to its most recent iteration, an 8-day show on Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton that is now entering its 39th year. The participants are a diverse group of athletes, ranging from local equestrians and up-and-coming riders to Olympic veterans and world-class competitors, all contending on a beautiful 65-acre showground. There are six show rings running at the same time, with all levels of riding skills represented, from little kids on ponies doing leadline to adults showing jumpers in the main Grand Prix ring.

With hunter, jumper and equitation (horse riding) competition daily from 8am to 5pm, and featuring more than 70 boutiques, an international food court and farmer’s market, pony rides, petting zoo animals, special attractions, and more, the show kicks off on Sunday, August 24, and ends on Sunday, August 31, culminating with the $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier. In the larger context of horse shows throughout the world, The Hampton Classic is noteworthy for several reasons. It is the first U.S. stop in the East Coast World Cup League competitions and it is viewed by many experienced equestrians as the most glamorous, with more than 1,600 horses routinely competing and more than 40,000 spectators set to attend over the eight days, many of them prominent individuals.

Celebrity sightings are common at the Hampton Classic, as many famous faces, including media icons, musicians, actors, politicians, philanthropists, and CEOs, often spend summers in the Hamptons. Previous years have brought out Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Joel, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sofia Vergara, Matt Lauer Mary-Kate Olsen, and many others. Also noteworthy is the high-end shopping boutiques, located in the Boutique Garden and on Stable Row.