Like lemonade on a hot day, few things go together quite so well as horse showing and the Hamptons. For more than a century, the South Fork of Long Island has been drawing equestrian enthusiasts to its shores, eager to soak up the sun, hobnob with the stars, and enjoy some top notch riding and North East country splendor. And whether you plan on attending as a spectator or a rider this year (entries close July 22nd!), the Hampton Classic has a little something for every visitor.
So grab your best floppy straw hat and come on down! Here are eight reasons the Hampton Classic (August 28 – September 4) is THE place to be this summer.
1. You Can Bask in the Glow of History
Since the early 1900s, the Hamptons have been home to regular equestrian events, from the South Hampton horse show of the Roaring '20s to the inherent glamour of the 1950s circuit, and the show's modern incarnation, revived in 1976.
2. The Shopping is Fun, Not Stuffy
Don't let the Boutique Garden's champagne, luxury sedans, and priceless jewels fool you: you don't have to be Jennifer Lopez to enjoy the Classic's charms. This year, check out everything from state-of-the-art wine openers and personalized artwork to spa services and cider tastings.
3. There Will Be Jumper Derbies
And you know what that means: rolling turf, open water, bank jumps, hedges, and numerous "natural" obstacles that drive fear into the hearts of competitors, while exceedingly entertaining the rest of us. (Plus, the Grand Prix is on Sunday, September 4th!)
4. The Classic Puts the "C" in Causes
On Monday, August 29th, the ASPCA will host their 7th annual Adoption Day at the Classic, which helps rescued and at-risk horses, dogs and cats find permanent homes. Monday is also the year-end finals for the Long Island Horse Show Series Riders with Disabilities divisions, complete with a special honorary breakfast for participants.
5. You Might Spot an Olsen or Two...
Also Matt Lauer, Martha Stewart, Christie Brinkley, or any of the Hamptons' other glitterati regulars. Though if you're anything like us, you're probably more interested in the rider-spotting. (Kent? Olivier? Is that you?!)
6. OTTBS Go Double or Nothing
Got an OTTB? Get ready to cash in! This year, instead of a designated Thoroughbred division, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) is offering a special incentive for Jockey Club-registered OTTBS competing in a variety of classes on Opening Day (August 28th). Any horse that places in the ribbons will automatically have his prize money doubled by the NYRA!
7. The Food is on Point
Seriously, pack your most forgiving breeches—this is not your average horse show wrap and salad stand. The International Food Court offers everything from Greek and Mexican fare to crepes, brick oven pizza, and lobster rolls. Because it wouldn't be the Hamptons without lobster rolls...
8. If You Like Leadline, This Is the Show for You
Cute kids. Tiny ponies. Really big hair bows. This is leadline at its best, and perhaps no class in the country does it quite like the Hampton Classic. With 100 entries, this three-hour extravaganza is more like the Olympic qualifiers, with 10 heats of 10 kids each, and a final ride-off in which judge Joe Fargis quizzes the top competitors.
Be Social! Keep Up with the Hampton Classic!