Hampton Falls, NH - The stars of the international sport of equestrian show jumping are headed to New England's 21st Jumper Classic, featuring the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, at Silver Oak Equestrian Center in beautiful Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.
The show opens on Wednesday, September 15th with classes for horses and riders of all levels in jumping, increasing in difficulty until Saturday, September 18th, and Sunday September 19th, when the nation's top horses and riders will compete on a spectacular Grand Prix course designed by Olympic course designer Linda Allen and will be cheered on by devoted fans of show jumping.
Defending champion Kent Farrington, who has won the Fidelity Investments Grand Prix three times in the past four years, will return to challenge some of the top athletes in the sport. Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward, the #1 show jumping rider in the nation who is representing the U.S. at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, will compete in the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix just one week after winning the Pfizer $1Million, the largest purse in the history of the sport.Â Gold Medalist Leslie Burr Howard, Silver Medalist Peter Leone, and top international riders including Norman and Nick Dello Joio, Judy Garofalo-Torres, Jon & Christine McCrae, and Schuyler Riley, as well as rising stars Clementine Goutal and Victoria Birdsall are all on their way to compete in the top classes.
Elite rider Kent Farrington and his horse Up Chiqui have been crowd favorites at this exciting spectator sport, not only in New England but throughout the east coast and internationally.
"I love having the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic on my schedule every year," he said. "It has a great atmosphere, tough competition, and good prize money. It's been a great event for me to help build my Grand Prix horses for the future and still a favorite event for the ones that already know what they're doing."
Peter Leone is bringing his best horse Select, with whom he won the $100,000 Grand Prix of Devon earlier this year. He won the first Speed Derby held at the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic in 2008, and has ridden in the show for several years.
"The Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic is one of the most rider-friendly shows on the tour. Show management has made a wonderful commitment to the riders, the Grand Prix field is one of the best in the country, and there are really good course designs," he said, adding that the SmartPak Rider's Tent is always a welcome feature with comfortable seating and refreshments throughout the day. While he coaches riders who are competing in classes throughout the five days of showing, he remarked on how the focus turns to the Grand Prix field on the last day of the show. "I love the way the show gets quiet on Sunday with just the two big classes. It"s nice to go in and just concentrate on the competition."
Schuyler Riley, who has competed at the show since its inception in 1989, said simply, "I love the show. The Jumper Classic is a true gem for show jumping. The facility is top notch, the environment is friendly, and it's suitable for all levels of riding." She added that one thing that sets the Jumper Classic apart from many of today's shows is the grass footing in the Coldwell Banker Previews Grand Prix.
These athletes will compete in the top level classes -the $12,000 Millbrook Ventures Speed Derby on Saturday, and the $15,000 Equine Insurance Services Speed Stake and $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix on Sunday. Leading up to the weekend, the show will host over 400 horses competing in 60 classes with over $200,000 in prize money, including the Pro-Am class sponsored by Merial, the $10,000 Welcome Stake, the Master's Classic, new 1.30 and 1.40 meter classes as well as schooling classes. In addition to the Coldwell Banker Previews Grand Prix Field with the Brook Ledge Derby Bank, the show features two all-weather rings with courses designed by Eric Hasbrouck, and warm up rings sponsored by EquiFit, Inc.
The Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic, presented by Porsche, moved to Hampton Falls, New Hampshire in 2008, and has continued its traditional competition atmosphere comparable to European shows. Nestled among farmland and apple orchards, the show is located just 45 minutes from Boston and 15 minutes from the beautiful city of Portsmouth and the seacoast.
Spectators come to enjoy seeing the top competition in a festive and gala atmosphere. A special feature of the show is the "Meet & Greet," sponsored by Elite Shavings, where a panel of top riders answer questions from fans and sign autographs, as well as enjoy a buffet catered by Bonta restaurant in the SmartPak Rider's Tent at the end of the day's competition on Thursday, the 16th at 4:30 p.m.
For more information about all the activities at the 2010 Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic please visit www.jumperclassic.com or call 978.283.7708
Photo: Kent Farrington-3-Time Fidelity Investments Grand Prix Winner