Long Island Sportsmanship Award Marks Hampton Classic Opening Day

Opening day at Hampton Classic Horse Show.
2014 opening day at Hampton Classic Horse Show. Photo credit: Barry Gordin

Highlighting the opening ceremonies at the 39th Hampton Classic Horse Show was the presentation of the Long Island Sportsmanship Award, given annually to a Long Island horseperson who has demonstrated excellence in sportsmanship over a long period of years.

Show President Dennis Suskind and Vice President Emily Aspinall presented the Long Island Sportsmanship Award, sponsored by the East Hampton Grill, to highly respected farrier Dave Birdsall in the Grand Prix Ring.

The 39th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show runs Aug. 24-31, in Bridgehampton, NY. The Hampton Classic features world-class equestrian competition, with more than 100 classes of competition, including jumper, hunter, equitation, short stirrup and leadline classes, as well as competitions for riders with disabilities.

Birdsall was the Hampton Classic’s official farrier for more than 25 years. Birdsall, who’s been shoeing horses on Long Island for 40 years, is an inductee in the International Horseshoers Hall of Fame, and he claims to be retired. But he still regularly shoes horses and responds to his clients’ emergency calls, even in the middle of the night.

Following the presentation of the Long Island Sportsmanship Award, two members of the Bay Street Theater’s production of My Life Is A Musical—Justin Matthew Sargent and Kathleen Elizabeth Montelone—sang the National Anthem.

Earlier in the morning, six sections of leadline classes, for riders 2-4 years old and for riders 5-7 years old, took over the Grand Prix Ring. Carefully scrutinizing the riders of tomorrow was judge Joe Fargis, 66, the winner of the individual and team gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Riders of more than 600 horses stabled on Long Island vied for the local hunter championships all day long in the Anne Aspinall Hunter Ring and in Hunter Ring 2.

The Hampton Classic features six show rings, a Boutique Garden with more than 70 vendors, and a wide selection of dining options, on its 60-acre show grounds. The Classic’s world-class equestrian competition attracts many of the nation’s top professional and amateur riders including Olympic medalists.

The Hampton Classic’s world-class field of Grand Prix riders competes daily in the Classic’s open jumper division, which features an FEI-recognized Grand Prix on three consecutive days, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 29-31: the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier presented by Longines, on Friday, the $40,000 Longines Cup on Saturday, and Sunday’s $250,000 Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier, presented by Land Rover, a qualifying competition for the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas next April.

The Grand Prix is also part of the Taylor Harris Triple Crown Challenge which awards a $200,000 bonus should the same horse-and-rider combination win the $100,000 Grand Prix of Devon, $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix, and the $250,000 National Horse Show Grand Prix. The rider who accumulates the most points in the horse show’s Open Jumper division wins the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge.

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