LEFT TO RIGHT: SYDNEY SHULMAN, LILLIE KEENAN, BRIANNE GOUTAL, VICTORIA COLVIN IN THE GRAND PRIX RING AT THE HAMPTON CLASSIC. PHOTOGRAPHS BY DEBBY HYMOWITZ
One of the premier events and grand finale of the Hamptons summer social scene, The Hampton Classic horse show, is taking place this week. The pinnacle of the show is the Grand Prix, a spectacular display of athleticism, bravado and showmanship that is not to be missed. Scheduled for Sunday, it is an event defined by speed and precision, and features massive jumps with heights up to 1.6 meters (5’3″) and spreads up to 2.0 metres (6’7″). The fastest time with the least amount of faults wins, and it requires perfect teamwork between the rider and the horse.
With a $250,000 purse, The Hampton Classic Grand Prix offers some of the richest prize money in the sport. It is part of the Taylor Harris Triple Crown Challenge which awards a $200,000 bonus to the horse-and-rider combination that manages to win the $100,000 Grand Prix of Devon, the $250,000 Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic, and the $250,000 Grand Prix at the National Horse Show.
The event is unique for many reasons, not the least of which is that men and women compete against each other in the same event. And second only to the competition is the style. From helmets to jackets to shirts, pants, and boots, the top riders are sponsored from head to toe. While many of the brands like Charles Ancona, Pikeur, Tucci, Samsheild, Parlanti, Grand Prix and Essex are known only to the cognoscenti, the look is nothing but chic.
CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: BRIANNE GOUTAL WARMING UP, AS SYDNEY SHULMAN AND ANOTHER RIDER WATCH; LILLIE KEENAN WHO IS PARTNERED WITH HERMES AT THEIR SPONSORED JUMP; TUCCI BOOTS; CHARLES ANCONA CUSTOM SHOW JACKETS, SPONSORS OF SYD SHULMAN AND BRIANNE GOUTAL; TORI, BRIANNE, SYD & LILLIE KEENAN.
While many people come to The Hampton Classic to see and be seen, they sometimes forget the reason they are there is the athletic competition among intensely focused and highly trained athletes (and their horses). Photographer Debby Hymowitz and I had a chance to meet up earlier this week with four of the top female competitors in the Grand Prix: Sydney Shulman, Lillie Keenan, Brianne Goutal, and Victoria Colvin, ranging from ages 16 to 25. I asked them about their thoughts on the star-studded social scene at The Classic, and whether they enjoy competing with so much happening outside of the ring.
“In America there is a lack of spectatorship from outside the sport and the Hampton Classic is one of the few horse shows that is successful in bringing in a crowd. Whether that’s for social purposes or for sport, it’s still amazing to have them there,” says Brianne Goutal. “We do have to change the way we interact, however. We have to please the public and compete for the crowd. The horses might have different reactions and you’re dealing with stress you might not be used to. In general, though, I love the crowds and it’s great for the sport!” Read More