Bridgehampton, NY- September 13, 2001 - Thousands of spectators were drawn to the country's premier equestrian event, the Hampton Classic Horse Show, held August 26 - September 2 on the 70-acre show site in Bridgehampton, New York. From the Manhattan Mortgage Company's Opening Day ceremonies to the grand finale - the $150,000 Prudential Financial Grand Prix presented by David Yurman - the Classic showcased the nation's best riders and finest horses.
Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, was the biggest winner, capturing the $150,000 Prudential Financial Grand Prix presented by David Yurman, for the second year in a row. Engle rode Hidden Creek's Laurel to victory with a time of 38.09 seconds. Engle won the jump-off by two tenths of a second in front of McLain Ward and Rio.
Engle, who won last year's Grand Prix aboard Laurel just days before flying to Sydney for the Olympic Games, set a blistering pace to overcome Ward's time, shaving time on tight turns. "I watched McLain, and he went very fast," said Engle. "I figured I had nothing to lose."
Ward of Brewster, NY, qualified for the grand prix earlier in the week by winning the $25,000 Adequan Fiesta Day Grand Prix presented by Celebrity Cruises aboard Viktor. The win put Ward in a position to win the $100,000 New Things Grand Prix Bonus Challenge, which is awarded to the horse-and-rider combination who wins both the Adequan Fiesta Day Grand Prix presented by Celebrity Cruises and the $150,000 Prudential Financial Grand Prix presented by David Yurman. Alas, Ward would not become the first rider ever to capture the elusive bonus.
Prior to the Grand Prix on Sunday, the AmeriChoice Eastern Finals of the Young Jumper Championship showcased the most promising 5- and 6-year-old show jumping prospects competing in the United States. Winning the $20,000 AmeriChoice Young Jumper Championship Finals for 5-Year-Olds was U.S. Equestrian Team rider and Olympic veteran Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, WI, riding Cingular. "It's great for us," said Kraut. "Before this class we had no place to start young horses in competition.
It's great experience for a young horse at such a large show. We joke about Cingular. He's a 5-year-old with a 15-year-old brain. He was born to be a show jumper." In the $30,000 AmeriChoice Young Jumper Championship Finals for 6-Year-Olds, Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, FL, won aboard Rollercoaster, owned by Mr. & Mrs. Steven Dicanio.
In the prestigious $25,000 Calvin Klein Show Jumping Derby, Michael Morrissey of Bradenton, FL, went home with the blue. Morrissey piloted Gera, owned by Gene Mische, to the win by a mere second in front of Erin Haas of Chelsea, MI, aboard Cameron.
U.S. Equestrian Team veteran Jeffrey Welles of New Canaan, CT, snared first place for the second year in a row in an exciting jump-off for the $25,000 Sally Hansen Grand Prix title. Welles piloted Sagamore Farms' Jasmine to claim victory over a record 72 entries, while also claiming fourth place aboard Riviera. Welles and Jasmine also won the $5,000 Alpha Global Advisors Open Jumper (Low) class.
Paige Johnson rode Just Dreamin' to take first place in the $15,000 WGHR Farm's Jumper Classic (High). Johnson, soon to be 16-years-old of Washington, DC, said the Jumper Classic course held no surprises for her. Canadian Eric Lamaze and the 10-year-old German warmblood Millcreek Raphael, negotiated a tricky course to claim victory in the $10,000 Manhattan Style Open Jumper Class, as well as third and fifth places aboard Ezior Danum and Rosina, respectively. "It's often difficult to ride Conrad's (Homfeld) courses," said Lamaze of Ontario. "The toughest line was a double with very short distances. Since this was a speed class, it was difficult to gather the horse for the last double. Your horse had to come back to you to keep his jump to get across."
In the $5,000 Junior Amateur Owner Hunter Classic, Georgina Bloomberg of New York, NY, rode Dialog to top honors. The Grand Hunter Championship was awarded to Pearl Gold, owned and ridden by Ellen Toon of South Salem, NY. Brian Walker of St. Lazare, Quebec won the $10,000 CK Equitation Championship riding Grappa, owned by Sarah Willeman. Grappa, a Hanoverian gelding, had carried Willeman to victory in the same class in 1998. The CK Championship which also carries the $10,000 trainers' award, tests young riders' skills at maneuvering a horse cleanly around a jumper course of 12-14 natural fences, all over 4 feet tall in less than 90 seconds. Walker, along with Derek Braun, of Bridgehampton, NY, were the top riders in the two sections of the BET/USET Show Jumping Talent classes. Holly Hunter of Colts Neck, NJ was awarded the Leading Hunter Rider Award, and Whitney Roper was awarded the Best Junior Rider Award. The Hunter Groom Award went to Betsy Keating of South Salem, NY.
One highlight of the Hampton Classic was Seniors Day, presented by 50 Plus Senior News on Thursday, August 30. Senior spectators cheered on their peers in the Adult Amateur Hunter and Jumper divisions and enjoyed a host of other activities. One highlight of the day was the Adult Amateur Hunter Over 46 Championship, where Sherry Robertson, 52 of Edgemont, PA, piloted Inverness, a gray mare, to victory.
The first annual Celebrity Cruises Fiesta Day presented by Avis offered a tribute to the Greater New York Hispanic and Latino community on Friday, August 31. Special on-field ceremonies were held to honor individuals such as Jane Garcia, President of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and her husband, former congressman Bob Garcia; Ernie Gonzales, President of Captree Chemical Co. & Chairman of the Hampton Classic's Fiesta Day Committee; and Luis Vasquez, President of the L.I. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of Nassau County CASA. Martine Diaz, a groom for rider Sloan Lindemann, was honored for his years of dedication and contribution to the horse show world.
Killian Dunn, lead groom in rider/trainer Tim Grubb's stable, was the winner in Friday's $1,000 Add-Back Grooms' Class, a Hampton Classic innovation where grooms were tested on their ability to prepare their horses properly for the show ring as well as ride at the walk and trot. Thirty grooms and horses turned out for the class, which proved to be a high point of the afternoon classes at The Classic.
"It was fun," said Dunn, 20, a native of Dublin, Ireland. "You had all the fellows from the stables there, and they were all hooting and hollering. There should be more classes like that. That would make your day a lot more entertaining."
Children of all ages came out for a day of fun before going back to school for Cablevision's Kid's Day on Saturday, September 1. In the Horse Exhibition Tent and Show Yard, flocks of children gathered around Marvin the Tap Dancing Horse and Maggie and the Ferocious Beast cartoon characters for autographs and fun. Children also learned to juggle, plate spin and stilt walk from the National Circus Project. With balloons in hand, kids discovered a world of horses, llamas and were able to get an autograph from Olympic rider Laura Kraut.
In addition, music and dance exhibitions representing many countries that make up the Hispanic/Latino culture showcased their varied traditions. Select food booths were scattered throughout the grounds offering delicious Hispanic and Latino cuisine.
As usual, the Hampton Classic was attended by lots of celebrities including actresses Kathleen Turner and Glenn Close, Broadway star Max Von Essen, Calvin Klein, Christie Brinkley, New York City mayoral candidate Michael Bloomberg, and former New York Ranger star Rocket Rod Gilbert. The Hampton Classic Horse Show benefits the Southampton Hospital, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the United States Equestrian Team. For more information on the Hampton Classic be sure to visit the web site at www.hamptonclassic.com, call 631-537-3177.