An Overview of the Hampton Classic
Each year, approximately 50,000 people, including A-list celebrities, gather to watch one of the world’s most prestigious horse shows, the Hampton Classic.
Held on 65 acres in Bridgehampton, New York, neighboring some of the East Coast’s most picturesque beaches, the weeklong competition features about 1,500 top equestrians from around the globe. Individuals ranging from leadliners as young as two years old to winners of multiple World, World Cup, and Olympic titles try their strength in more than 200 competitions in six rings, yielding a total of over $800,000 in prize money.
The show traditionally opens on the last Sunday of August with the Hampton Classic Leadline, held in the Grand Prix Ring. The smallest riders and their mounts march past a distinguished judge. For the past seven years, this has been Joe Fargis, a double Olympic gold medalist and member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. This culminates a week later with the awarding of one of the most desired titles, the $300,000 Grand Prix.
While the inaugural Grand Prix took place in 1977, the history of Hampton’s horse show dates back to the early 1900s. The first annual Horse Show in Southampton had riders compete on the sprawling green areas facing Lake Agawam. A period of alternating progress and setbacks followed. The two world wars led to the show’s discontinuation, while prominent local figures had it revived.
In 1976, the Southampton Horse Show outgrew its local status and turned into an “A” rated event lasting for five days and featuring showjumping. This was followed by the formal incorporation, a year later, of the Southampton Horse Show by the Hampton Classic. Since then, the competition has expanded to become one of the country’s largest open-air horse shows, regarded as a premium destination by horse people and a coveted part of competitors’ summer tour schedules.
The year 2009 marked an important milestone in the Hampton Classic’s history, as the US Equestrian Federation honored it with the status of Heritage Competition. The Hampton Classic became only the second horse show ever to receive the designation, after Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Texas, one of the oldest horse shows in the United States. Only competitions that have existed for at least 25 years and have substantially contributed to the development and promotion of equestrian sport both within the horse and the broader communities can earn the prestigious status.
Besides the equestrians’ mastery, Hampton Classic spectators can enjoy over 80 onsite shops located at the Agneta Currey Boutique Garden, as well as a diverse international cuisine selection. In a designated kids’ area, young attendees can ride ponies and pet farm animals, among other attractions. Also taking place is the annual Animal Welfare and Adoption Day, which features a variety of rescues, including dogs, cats, mini donkeys, and horses.
In 2020, due to the outbreak of the global pandemic, the show was canceled. After its return the following year, the 46th edition of the Hampton Classic is scheduled to take place between August 28 and September 4, 2022.