Celebrities join horse show fans at Hampton Classic

Fans and celebrities were on hand at the 39th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, which concluded on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Bridgehampton. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

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Large crowds, sunny skies and a breeze greeted Sunday's grand finale of the 39th annual Hampton Classic horse show, where riders competed for part of the $250,000 in prizes.

Groups that gathered under the VIP tents included former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and television hosts Gayle King, Matt Lauer and James Lipton.

Attendance neared record levels, said Marty Bauman, a media officer for the show. The Hampton Classic Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier drew 15,000 visitors Sunday, 60,000 for the weeklong event.

Richie Moloney, who is from Ireland but summers, rides and trains in Riverhead, won the Longines Rider Challenge for open jumping and with it a $30,000 prize. He won the most points throughout the show.

"I'm over the moon," Moloney, 32, said after winning.

Before the Grand Prix, in which he placed third, he called the Hampton Classic "the biggest thing all summer for us. You have a great crowd here watching, and when you do well in the competition you can hear the crowds cheering for you."

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Kevin Babington, also of Ireland, won the Grand Prix and its $82,500 prize.

"Every rider wants to win a Hamptons, and it's always been a dream of mine," Babington, 46, said. "Today it paid off."

The event in Bridgehampton attracts celebrities as much as horse enthusiasts.

Giuliani said he has attended the Classic for about 10 years.

Lipton, host of Bravo's "Inside The Actors Studio," recalled being at the first Hampton Classic and said he has not missed a show since.

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"It's a religion," Lipton said, adding that he showed in hunter and jumper events at the Classic for many years. That tradition ended with an injury about a decade ago while he was "routinely schooling" his horse.

"My boots are still in the basement. My saddle's still in the basement," Lipton said. "And they'll be there forever."

"Today" show host Lauer, of Sag Harbor, watched his 10-year-old daughter, Romy, ride in competition Sunday morning.

"We have a horse farm here in the Hamptons. My wife and daughter ride like crazy. And so we love the competition," Lauer said. "I know a lot of other people love the scene of this, but we get out of our seats and . . . we watch the jumping."

For his rival morning show host King, of "CBS This Morning," this year was the first time she attended the Hampton Classic.

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"Everybody comes, and it's like they're going to a very chic garden party," King said. "I really like the beauty and the majesty of horses. So I'm very curious to see exactly what happens here."

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