Well into its fourth decade, The Hampton Classic Horse Show remains a premier event for both serious equestrians and spectators of all ages. The Classic includes everything you might expect from a premier horse show—world-class sport and intense competition—but also a powerful sense of community and civic-mindedness. Whether you’re there for the sport or the people-watching, here are some tips from Elliman Magazine‘s summer 2017 issue for planning your outing.
1. Know the daily admission and Grand Prix ticket options.
Daily general admission is $10 per person or $20 per car load. Kids under 6 years old get in for free all week; kids under 12 get in for free on Kids Day (Saturday, September 2). Seniors are free on Tuesday, August 29 through Thursday, August 31.
The Grand Prix is the Hampton Classic’s featured event and culminates the week-long competition on the final Sunday. There are a few options to watch some of the world’s best equestrians compete for the $300,000 purse, but no matter which you choose, be sure to purchase tickets early as the event draws a large crowd.
Tickets for the Grand Prix grandstand range from $35-$45 depending on location. For premium seating in sections B, C and D you can expect to spend $45 per ticket. For standard seating in sections A and E, tickets will cost you $35 per person. All grandstand seating is open to the sun, so arm yourself with some sunscreen, sunglasses and even a hat.
Other seating includes three VIP tents where you’ll find sponsors, including Douglas Elliman, and competitors’ tables for the duration of the event.
2. Attend on the special event and free admission days.
Since 2006, the Classic has included the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities. This year, it will take place on Monday, August 28. “It’s a wonderful event,” says Shanette Barth Cohen, the Classic’s executive director. “There’s no admission charge that day.” It’s also the 7th Annual Adoption and Animal Welfare Day. “We have rescue organizations—dog, cat, sometimes pig or rabbit and horse rescues that bring adoptable animals to the show,” says Cohen. The riders show, jump and race; the animals get matched with forever homes. Everyone leaves happy.
Keeping with the Classic’s tradition of giving back to the community, there will be a food drive in support of the local Sag Harbor Food Pantry on August 29-30. Spectators who present three or more nonperishable items at the entrance gate on these days will be granted free admission for their entire car-load.
3. What to wear from head to toe.
Despite the casual summer style of the Hamptons, the crowds at the Classic enjoy donning fancy hats and duds. “Every year, especially on the final Sunday, there are hats everywhere,” says Cohen. The sartorial splendor makes for superb people-watching, she notes. It also gives visitors a chance to make a style statement. And if you don’t yet own a fascinator, not to worry. “We typically have hat centers either with fascinators or big hats in our shopping area,” says Cohen.
Planning to get decked out for your day at the races? The Classic has created a drier, mud-free welcome area for both horses and human guests, but you will still have to walk through soft dirt. “There are always people who didn’t plan appropriately and are wearing spiky heels,” says Executive Director Shanette Barth Cohen. “Wedges are your friend.”
4. Bring the kids and your wallet.
If you brought the kids with you, be sure to stop by the Exhibition Area Kids’ Tent between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for activities to keep the little ones occupied. In between competitions, wander over to the Boutique Garden to browse dozens of booths selling everything from tack to shoes to jewelry and representation from luxury brands such as Hermès, Land Rover and Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
5. Cheer on the riders!
After all, the Hampton Classic is a competition which draws top riders from around the world, so be sure to cheer them on and show your support. In the six show rings, you’ll find all levels of competition from junior to expert. The fiercest competitions are the Hermès Hunter Classic, the Longines Rider Challenge and the Grand Prix. You can also watch aspiring equestrians under the age of 7 parade around the Grand Prix ring on their ponies in the Hampton Classic Leadline.
As both an exciting equestrian event and a great social gathering, the Classic boasts wide attendance and an array of visitors. Whether you’re an award-winning rider or someone who’s never seen a horse show before, you’ll be cheering alongside each other. “There are a lot of horse shows out there that get the horse people,” Cohen says. “But they don’t get the people who don’t know about equestrian sports. They don’t introduce new people to the sport the way we do.”
The 2017 Hampton Classic is from August 27 through September 3 in Bridgehampton, NY.