Johns Island, South Carolina - The Classic Company just wrapped up its biggest Charleston Summer Classic since returning to Charleston eight years ago. Record entries and stalls, perfect weather and non-stop party action is how the show will go down in the record books. The overall sentiment was, 'I'm having so much fun, I don't want to leave.'
The Charleston Summer Classic was the first show produced by Bob Bell, President of the Classic Company, twenty two years ago. And while it has maintained its boutique charm, the show has grown in size significantly over the past few years. "I always think of this show as one big party for my friends who own horses," he said. "I started this show 22 years ago and asked a bunch of my friends with horses to support it," he continued, "Twenty two years later, the tradition continues," he said, "But by the looks of it, I have a lot more friends now," he laughed.
Numbers this year were up 35% over last year. "This is a tremendous increase for us," Bell commented. "And truthfully, had we had the stall reservations earlier, we could have accommodated more people who wanted to show with us," he said. "We simply had no more stalls left and the area barns were sold out as well," he commented.
What contributed to this growth? "It's hard to say," said Bell. "This year we offered two grand prix which was one more than last year, and we also offered the new Hunter Breeding Division, thanks to Rhett DeStefano," he said. "But while these class offerings could be a draw, I think the real reason is that people want to go on show-cation," he said. The opportunity to show in the morning, head to the beach in the afternoon and then back to the show for an evening grand prix or hunter derby is what people love."
And truly, the riders were taking advantage of this! British show jumping superstar Gemma Paternoster experienced her first Charleston Summer Classic this year and not only won both grand prix classes and had all of her horses in the ribbons each week, she also learned to wind surf!
The Owens family of San Antonio, Texas makes this trek every year to show at the Charleston Summer Classic and rents condos at the beach.
The Hightower family of Texas brought more than 40 horses to town and enjoyed all that the area and show had to offer. Jordan Gilchrist even celebrated her birthday with a win in the $5,000 Open Welcome.
Amber Mitchell of Brass Ring Farm in Pittstown, New Jersey has been bringing her barn to Charleston for the past five years. "There is no other show out there where you can ride in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon," she said. "Its really a perfect combination and there is a class offering for everyone in my barn," she said.
Julie Curtin of Roswell, Georgia won the $2,500 USHJA Hunter Derby week II besting the field of 46 horse and rider teams in the largest hunter derby ever produced by the Classic Company. "We had ten horses showing here over the two weeks," commented Curtin. "I did the inaugural show 22 years ago and I just love it," she said. "Charleston is the best place. I use it as my vacation and it is my favorite horse show of the year. It's so nice to work in the morning and go the beach in the afternoon. Where else can you get the best of both worlds?" she said.
"We had so many new faces this year, in addition to our regulars, that I expect the show to be bigger next year," said Bell. "I highly recommend that people book their condos now for next summer in order to lock in the 2014 rate and insure they will be here for another show-cation," he said. "In anticipation of another banner year, I am already working on putting in another ring, maybe a covered arena and more tent pads for additional stabling," he said. "And, I know the county is working on renovating the wash stall areas," he said.
"I couldn't be happier," said Bell, "the competitors had a great time, we had great weather and people were just delighted to be here," he said.
The Tradition Continues:
The Classic Company recognized its champions yesterday during the Grand Finale Awards Ceremony which concluded two weeks of show jumping competition. "Many of these awards and trophies that we present in Charleston commemorate the lives of horses and equestrians who were near and dear to us," said Classic Company President Bob Bell. "It is an honor to continue this tradition here at Charleston," he added.
The Grand Hunter Champion, the James Vaughn Perpetual Trophy, is awarded to the Hunter with the most championship points in the Green or Regular Conformation, Amateur or Junior Hunter Division. This year's prestigious honors was awarded to Fabrege, owned and ridden by Sara Stevens. The award was generously donated by Robbie Hunt and the Classic Company.
Stephens and Fabrege also added the Grand Green Working Hunter Championship to their resume as well as the Sit-Down Perpetual Trophy, donated by Peter Pletcher and PJP Farms.
All the Best, owned and ridden by Christina Fisher, was awarded the Seabrook Perpetual Trophy for winning the Grand Amateur Hunter Championship. The trophy was donated by Mr. and Mrs. John Horton of Seabrook Island.
The Grand Junior Hunter Champion, recipient of The Hummel Perpetual Trophy, was awarded to Happenstance, owned and ridden by Bergen Sanderford. The trophy was generously donated by Oak River Farm and the Principe family.
Happenstance also won the Grand Large Junior Hunter Champion and was the recipient of the Rave Perpetual Trophy which was generously donated by the Ueltzen Family.
Sanderford added another win to her resume, this time with her mount Confidential; the pair won the Grand Small Junior Hunter Championship and was awarded the Sweet Surprise Perpetual Trophy, generously donated by Brad Spragg and the Atlanta Hunt Club.
The Grand Pony Championship and recipient of the Keith R. Nichols Memorial Perpetual Trophy was awarded to Brighton Supposedly, owned by Eric Caleca and ridden by Hana Bieling. The trophy was donated by Robin R. Stoney and Mary Allison Mullis.
The Grand Children's Hunter Champion and the Trick or Treat Memorial Trophy was donated by Danny Robertshaw and awarded to Don Ramiro, owned and ridden by Samantha Posey.
The Grand Adult Amateur Championship and recipient of the Hillbright Farm Trophy, generously donated by Hill Bright Farm, was awarded to Kayak, owned by The Bristol Bay Company, LLC and ridden by Tracey London.
Creedence, owned and ridden by McKenzie Malone, won the the Grand Pre-Green Hunter Championship and the Beverly Finkle Memorial Trophy, donated by Robin Degnan.
The Grand Children's Jumper Championship was awarded to Talula, owned and ridden by Sara Dees.
The Grand A/O 3'3" Hunter Championship and the recipient of the Trourmaline Memorial Trophy, generously donated by the Coster family, was Versace, owned and ridden by Lynn Seithel of John's Island, South Carolina.
For complete results, please visit www.horseshowsonline.com.
The Classic Company would like to thank its sponsors Merial, Bohicket Marina, CWD, Antares, Devoucoux, Judy's Tack Shop, The Tack Room, Horseflight, Contender Boats, Rhett Destefano for their sponsorship of events as well as all VIP Tent sponsors including the Dressage Collection, Seithel Law Firm LLC, Atlanta Hunt Club and New Vintage Farm.
A beautiful sunset closes out the Charleston Summer Classic.
The Charleston Summer Classic returns to Mullet Hall Equestrian Center on Johns Island July 9 through 19 next year, so think about booking your condo now! This is the only horse show destination where you can jump the waves and the jumps. If you're ready to experience a horse show that exudes Southern hospitality in one of the most beautiful coastal communities in the country; a show that offers something for everyone - come on down!