BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY (Aug. 30, 2001) - These horses are just youngsters, but you wouldn't know it to see these future grand prix jumpers negotiating a course of jumps more than 4 feet high at the 26th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, now going on through Sunday, Sept. 2. "It's great for us," said Laura Kraut, U.S. Equestrian Team member and Olympic veteran. "Before this we had no place to start young horses in competition."
Kraut rode Cingular, a bay Dutch warmblood owned by Jessica Pasmore, to first place in the first round of the AmeriChoice Young Jumper Championship for 5-year-olds, thus qualifying to compete for the $20,000 prize money on Sunday, Sept. 2. Kraut, based in Oconomowoc, Wis., also placed fifth in the same class riding On Line, a chestnut Dutch stallion owned by Kate Bomgaars. The first round of the Young Jumper Championship for 6-year-old horses was won by S&L Buzz, a Dutch warmblood gelding ridden by Erynn Ballard of New Canaan, Conn., and owned by S&L Farms.
Forty-five horses competed in the first rounds on Wednesday to qualify for the $25,000 AmeriChoice Young Jumper Championship for 5-year-olds or the $30,000 AmeriChoice Young Jumper Championship for 6-year-olds, which both will be held Sunday, Sept. 2. More horse shows are offering Young Jumper classes, said Kraut. Before, these young horses just starting out in serious competition often were showing against older, more experienced veterans of the horse show world. Now they have a chance to make a mark at an early age, and trainers like Kraut welcome the opportunity to give these young horses seasoning. "You have to jump a certain number of clears [clear rounds with no fences down] in order to come here," she said. "It's great experience for a young horse to be at such a large show. We joke about Cingular. He's a 5-year-old with a 15-year-old brain. He's born to be a show jumper."