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Hampton Classic to feature Olympian equestrians

Georgina Bloomberg, Mayor Bloomberg's daughter, rides

Georgina Bloomberg, Mayor Bloomberg's daughter, rides "Perect De Coquerie" during an event at the Old Salem Farm in North Salem, New York. (May 19, 2012) Credit: Newsday/John Roca

Several Olympic equestrians are expected to compete in the Hampton Classic this month, with two of them aboard horses they rode in London.

Two-time gold medalists McLain Ward and Beezie Madden failed to medal this year, but they are scheduled to be part of a field of Olympic contenders at the weeklong event, including Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil and Daniel Bluman of Colombia.

The classic, which traditionally marks the end of the busy summer season in the Hamptons, is expected to draw 20,000 or more between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2. It brings well more than 1,000 horses to Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton each year, said Marty Bauman, spokesman for the show.

Several world-class riders are scheduled to compete each day and in the big closing event, the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup qualifier.

The Grand Prix competition is sanctioned by the Fédération Equestre Internationale.

The classic schedule has changed. The leadline contest for young riders -- they are walked around the ring by someone holding the horse's reins, and evaluated on posture -- has been moved to the last day instead of at the start.

It lets some of the jumper competitions take place in the Grand Prix ring, with the biggest seating for the audience and closest to the VIP tents, officials said.

That shift in schedule was made last year when an approaching hurricane forced the Hampton Classic to take down its tents and put off its opening day. The change proved so popular that the classic will be doing it again this year, at its 37th annual show.

While the crowds at the classic are mainly there to see the horses, there is a lot to the event, which through the years has raised more than $2 million for Southampton Hospital.

On Monday, the ASPCA plans an adoption day, where at-risk horses, dogs, cats and potbellied pigs will be offered for adoption. Seven local animal shelters and rescue groups, as well as three equine rescue groups, will have animals on site.

The adoption program -- the third time it has been held at the horse show -- will have animal welfare celebrities, including ASPCA equine welfare ambassador Jill Rappaport of the "Today" show and international riders Georgina Bloomberg, Brianne Goutal and Hayley Barnhill.

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