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The Hampton Classic horse show opens with jumper competition, shopping

Riders competed for a $30,000 prize while shoppers perused designer saddles, luxury cars and pet photography sessions.

Shane Sweetnam during competition fi the $30.000 Boar's

Shane Sweetnam during competition fi the $30.000 Boar's Head Open jumper at the opening day of The Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton on Aug. 26. Photo Credit: John Roca

Centerpieces fashioned from carrots and handmade Hermès leather saddles crafted in France were all part of the country-meets-chic feel of opening day for the Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton.

The 43rd annual equestrian competition, a Hamptons social calendar must-attend and a mark that the summer season is drawing to an end, is expected to draw 60,000 through its final day, Sept. 2.

Opening day kicked off with hunter and jumper competitions in various rings, and with children as young as 3 atop ponies led by trainers for an event known as “leadline.” Opening ceremonies included a dressage exhibition performed to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” Dressage involves a series of movements by horse and rider in which they appear to almost dance.

In addition to world-class horses and riders at the Hampton Classic, shopping and children’s activities are a draw for many attendees, as is the chance to rub elbows with the rich and famous, show executive director Shanette Barth Cohen said. “There’s something for everyone,” she said.

More than 70 shops lined the Agneta Currey Boutique Garden, named for a horse show board member credited with the development of the meticulous appearance of the grounds. She is to retire from the event this year. Jaguar automobiles, pet photography sessions and designer riding gear were among the items for sale.

Lisa Ellis of Wellington, Florida, who said she plans to compete later this week, selected a new Hermès saddle from the designer leather company’s booths.

“It’s light, it’s tight to the horse, the leather is super soft and it will not take a long time to break in,” Ellis said.

Opening day was light on celebrity sightings. But Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was one of the notable competitors. She won the $30,000 Boar’s Head Jumper Challenge, aboard Paola 233, besting a field of 42 starters. Many stars of movies, television, music and business arrive on the final day. Among them have been Bruce Springsteen, Sofia Vergara and Mary-Kate Olsen, organizers have said.

Sunday was Long Island Day at the 60-acre showgrounds with mostly local competitors in events other than the $30,000 Boar’s Head Jumper Challenge. The show culminates with the marquee event, the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI, presented by Douglas Elliman.

“This is one of the largest outdoor shows in North America and certainly the most beautiful,” said Barbara Messina of Medford, editor of Today’s Equestrian magazine. “It’s a delicious finish to the summer for many riders.”

Julie Pignatora, 19, of Southampton, said the event is a perfect way to end an East End summer — by spending it with her longtime riding friend on the gorgeous grounds.

“This is my favorite show because it’s on grass and you get such a variety of people,” she said. “It is very Hampton-y.”


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