Chloe Hase, 17, a senior at Southampton High School, and Sue Marder-O’Connor, 65, a teacher at the nearby Springs School, finished in a tie for the South Fork Perpetual Trophy, awarded to the Grand Local Hunter Champion at the 40th annual Hampton Classic.
Hase rode Brando, 18, to the Local Junior Hunter, Sec. B, title on her way to the grand championship. Marder-O’Connor rode Tour Guide, 18,to the L.I. Pulse Local Amateur-Owner Championship on her way to the grand championship.
“We’ve grown so much in the last few years, and we’ve become so in sync with each other. It was an amazing experience for both of us. One of the best experiences we’ve ever had,” Hase said. “The show is really special because it’s close to home, but it’s a huge show that people come from all over the world to show in.”
“This show is really everything to us,” said Marder-O’Connor, whose brother owns and runs Marder’s Landscaping, which has handled the trees and other plantings on the show grounds since the show’s inception. “So we’re here 24/7. We define our lives by this show, so this is huge. It made my year.”
Marder-O’Connor has owned Tour Guide for about four years, and she considers the veteran gelding semi-retired. He spends the summers in the Hamptons and the rest of the year at Marder-O’Connor’s sister’s equine-retirement farm in Virginia. When Tour Guide is in town, he resides at the Wolffer Estate, a vineyard and stable that is a show sponsor.
While Tour Guide is wintering in Virginia, Marder-O’Connor half-leases a horse at Wolffer Estate to ride on the weekends. Then, in June, sister Nancy Danfield brings Tour Guide north to train horse and rider for the Hampton Classic. “It’s a real family affair,” she said.
In 2013 they won the Local Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship, and in 2014 they won the Local Hunter Classic. They’ll be competing in the Adult Hunter division on Wednesday and Thursday.
“I’m kind of a lifetime student of riding. Anything I can do-I practice continually,” Marder-O’Connor said.
Hase has been a student with trainers Mandy and Jagger Topping since she was 8. She bought Brando five years ago, when they were both 12, and “we’ve grown up a lot in the last five years. Now we can read each other’s minds.”
Hase started showing in local day at the Hampton Classic shortly after she began training with the Toppings, but this was her first championship.
“This really symbolizes the hard work we’ve done together as a team—it was like a dream to me. It’s a great way to end the summer,” Hase said.
The other Local Day Hunter Champions were:
Junior Hunter, Sec. A: Al Pacino I, ridden by Olivia Kramer
Local Hunter (Pro), Sec. A: Quartermaster, ridden by Lainie Wimberly
Local Hunter (Pro), Sec. B: Rockford, ridden by Holly Orlando
Local Hunter (Non-Pro): Hands Down, ridden by James Henderson
Leadline: Agatha Lignelli