- There came a point when Paige Allardice might have expected to walk into the 33rd Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show
and come away with some sort of first prize. She'd done it in her first three years, and her older sister, also an accomplished rider, had won her share of accolades as well.
Sagaponack's Gretchen Topping, aboard Allegro, skies over a fence in the
Local Hunter Pro class in Hunter Ring 1.
However, Allardice went two years without a victory on local day at the venue that sits just two miles from Grassmere Farm in Sagaponack, where she grew up. The drought ended on a bright and, more importantly, dry summer day, as the 17-year-old Ross School student won the jumping first class and under saddle competitions to win Local Junior Hunter Section B aboard Double Cinco. Their performance made it so Allardice's smile needed no explanation.
"It was really exciting," Allardice said. "I've been doing the Hampton Classic
for six years now, and it feels like I'm at home. When I was young, I always did really well. I haven't done that well the last couple of years, so this year was definitely a good comeback for me."
The hunter competition helped kick-off a thrilling day of events on opening day at the Classic, which is scheduled to run through Sun., Aug. 31, capped by the $200,000 FTI Grand Prix
& FEI World Cup
Qualifier. More than 1,600 horses are expected to compete over the eight-day competition, with an excess of 50,000 spectators in attendance.
Allardice competed against 20-odd riders in Hunter Ring 2 and captured victory by a sizable margin, racking up 26 out of a possible 30 points. She and Double Cinco collected second and first-place finishes over fences in the jumping classes. They wrapped up the win by finishing first in under saddle.
The junior at Ross said that her familiarity with Double Cinco - and vice versa - makes for a dynamite tandem in the ring.
"We totally know each other," she said. "We have a really good relationship, and that's why we do so well."
Sagaponack's Raquel Lopez soars over a fence aboard Asterix Z in the
Local Junior Hunter class.
Double Cinco, who is trained by Timmy Kees, resides at Two Trees Stables on Hayground Road in Bridgehampton when he's being shown. Allardice accompanies the horse to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, for four months of the year, commuting on weekends and taking a three-week independent study made available by Ross. The rest of Double Cinco's time is spent in the Allardices' farm in their backyard.
Allardice made her debut at the Classic in 2002 and promptly won the Short Stirrup Equitation competition, riding Apple Jack to the title. The following years she won the children's hunter pony competition. In both 2004 and 2005, Allardice rode Pienviotte and won the Children's Hunter Horse 14-and-Under class and the Local Junior Working Hunter championships.
"I haven't been competing as much as I used to when I was younger," Allardice said. "I don't have as much time to do it, but I'm always riding, whether it's for fun or to compete."
The champion horse, Double Cinco, had no comment, but Allardice said "He loves to show. He's definitely a show horse."
There were a slew of other local winners who were celebrating on Sunday. For local hunter pros, Gretchen Topping of Sagaponack won the Section A Under Saddle class aboard Compliment, and another Sagaponack resident, Charlie Weaver, won the Section A Local Hunter Pro jumping classes atop Oz.
A second Topping, Jagger, rode Practical Magic to win the first class of Local Hunter Pro Section B. Sagaponack continued its dominance among the pros as Rolando Blue Stephanos, aboard And Then Some, who she co-owns with Allardice's mother, Pamela, swept the jumping classes for local hunter non-professional.
India Galesi-Grant of East Hampton rides Farnley Momento around the Grand Prix
Ring for the 5- to 7-Year-Old Leadline competition.
Micaela Zebroski of East Quogue won the Short Stirrup Equitation Section A Walk and Trot, as well as the Walk, Trot and Canter classes for 10 to 12-year-olds, doing so with Quantuck Razzmatazz as her mount. In Section B, Bridgehampton's Sasha McCauley and Blue River's Twinkle Toes earned top honors in the Walk and Trot competition
In the nine-and-under Section A Short Stirrup, Clementine Talmage of East Hampton finished in the top three in all three contests to earn top honors. She and Chick Flick won the Walk And Trot, and then took third and second in the ensuing classes. In Section D, Bridgehampton's Lilly Hymowitz soared to a first-place finish in the nine-and-under fences class.
Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ kicked off the week's worth of festivities in appropriately grand style, taking home first prize in Sunday's $20,000 Nicolock Speed Challenge, the first of a series of major jumping competitions in the Grand Prix Ring. Aboard Marengo, the 20-year-old Harvard University student posted a clean run of 61.59 seconds to finish in the top spot. Dobbs also rode 11-year-old mare Corlett to a third-place finish, registering a time of 63.71 seconds.
East Hampton's Vivienne Witty ambles along with her mount
after completing the leadline requirements and receiving
Dobbs is no stranger to the shows' highest accolades. She's twice won a gold medal as a member the U.S. Nations Cup team. Late last year, Marengo was named the Leading International Horse at the 124th National Horse Show. Earlier this year aboard Corlett, Dobbs, who is the daughter of media mogul Lou Dobbs, won the Swedbank Derby at the Falsterbo Horse Show in Sweden, her first ever European competition.
"Marengo is an especially fast horse, and today she was fresh and confident," Dobbs said of Marengo. "If I ride her correctly, we always have a shot [at winning]."
Sandwiched in between Dobbs' two finishes was Victoria Birdsall of Topsfield, MA, riding Jerremy.
A Busy First Day
For the second straight year, WLIU 88.3 FM held a National Anthem Singing Contest. Eleven-year-old Lexxi Saal of Deer Park won the competition, which was broadcast live on the station. In the pool of six finalists, all of whom were adults otherwise Saal emerged victorious, cuing up the beginning of the Nicolock Time Challenge.
Agneta Currey, a member of the Hampton Classic Board of Directors executive committee and chair of the floral and grounds committee, was presented with this year's Old Field Trophy - Long Island Sportsmanship Award. Created last year by the Old Field Farm, the award commemorates the efforts of a Long Island horse person who "has demonstrated excellence in sportsmanship."
Lola Consuelos, the seven-year-old daughter of actors Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa
, outdid a talented field of riders aboard Clever Endeavor to win the five to seven-year-old Leadline competition, held in the Grand Prix Ring.
Isabella Clark of Shelter Island takes her horse, Claddagh, flying over a gate at the 33rd Annual Hampton Classic Horse show.