Karl Cook of the U.S.A. Wins 2022 Hampton Classic Grand Prix

Karl Cook and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet won the $410,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix.
Karl Cook and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet won the $410,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix
© KindMedia

This past Sunday, about 30,000 people went over to the horse show grounds in Bridgehampton to cheer on the horses in the $410,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix. Of course, watching the horses was not the primary reason they were there. The primary reason was, instead, about seeing and being seen all dressed up for this occasion.

Was that Mayor Bloomberg on hand to root for his daughter Georgina aboard Tulara Colmine? Was that Bob Chaloner, the chief administrator of Southampton Hospital? Was that the philanthropist Jean Shafiroff walking down the aisle between the tables under the Grand Prix tent? Was that Jay Schneiderman, the Southampton Town supervisor? Or Vicki Schneps, the owner of Dan’s Papers in a stunning dress and hat.

But besides all this, here was this big day for all the horses and their riders to compete for this $410,000 prize. And that was a pretty exciting thing to watch as well.

The horse show is the capstone at the end of summer. And indeed, on this day, the sun was out, the temperature was in the high 80s and there was not a cloud in the sky.

A total of 30 horses and riders competed. They came representing 10 different countries. And they walked and trotted out from the paddock area one at a time, at first to be led along in order to examine the course and set up a plan to jump over the 20 fences successfully in less than 85 seconds.

Each entrant had about three minutes on the course. A minute and a half to examine it ahead of time. And then about a minute of galloping along, turning and leaping to complete their run, then about 30 seconds to get off the course to make way for the next rider. If more than one of the 30 entrants were able to complete the course without knocking over any fence rails, there would have to be a second round to determine the winner.

The event began at exactly 1:30 p.m. with a bugle call to the hounds and it would last about an hour and a half. Thus would be the climax of the day, as it has, now for half a century, every Labor Day Sunday in the Hamptons.

The first four horses and riders each knocked off rails on their way through the course and were thus eliminated. But the fifth horse and rider completed it without a fault. This was David Blake aboard Keoki, a Holsteiner from Wellington, Florida representing Ireland who finished the course in 40.30 seconds.

The second was Katie Dinan aboard Brego R’N B, a Dutch Warmblood, who got through the course without a fault in 38.32 seconds for the United States.

Daniel Bluman aboard Gemma W placed second at the 2022 Hampton Classic Grand Prix
Daniel Bluman aboard Gemma W© KindMedia

In the end, seven more horses and riders went over clean, to earn a place in a final round, and they included Mario DesLauriers aboard Uris de la Roque, a Selle Francais representing Canada; last year’s winner Daniel Bluman aboard Gemma W, a Dutch Warmblood representing Israel; Devin Ryan aboard Eddie Blue, a Dutch Warmblood representing the United States; and Karl Cook aboard Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet, still another Dutch Warmblood, also representing the United States.

Not completing the course successfully were, among 21 others, Richie Moloney aboard Coco Beach representing Ireland, McLain Ward, the favorite, aboard HH Callas for the United States and Georgina Bloomberg aboard Tulara Colmine who completed all the jumps flawlessly until she got to the last two.

These nine, semifinal horse and rider winners then waited for about 20 minutes while the course was wetted down by sprays from water trucks to cut down the dust. A new, shorter course was then quickly put in place. Since about half the gates had been removed, the course could be completed in about 40 seconds, about half the time as the first round.

In this second round, if just one could get through without kicking off a rail, he or she would win. But if two or more did it, the entrant with no fault and the fastest time would be declared the winner.

And so, these riders aboard their horses came out one after another to survey the new but shorter course of jumps — with the steeds clearly excited and wired up, all ready to go. It was going to be quite something.

During the next 30 minutes, five of the nine horses and riders completed the course without a fault. The first was David Blake, the rider ranked 512th in the world, aboard Keoki who the crowd cheered on through the course in only 40.30 seconds.

Mimi Gochman, ranked 401st, finished the course aboard Celina BH in 38.73 seconds — almost exactly two seconds faster than Blake, thus seizing the lead.

The next entrant to do it was Katie Dinan, ranked 149th, who aboard Brego R’N B completed the course without a fault in 38.32 seconds.

And that left a final two. Daniel Bluman, ranked 19th in the world and last year’s winner, hurried Gemma W in a run of 36.93 seconds to take the lead from Katie Dinan. Now there was just one more rider.

Karl Cook and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet win the 2022 Hampton Classic Grand Prix
Karl Cook and Kalinka Van’t ZorgvlietDan Rattiner

This would be American Karl Cook, ranked 85th in the world, who would now ride aboard Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet. He started through the course slow, but then picked up speed as his steed got to understand there would need to be a hurry up finish. And this horse rose to the challenge. Crossing the finish line without a fault in 36.71 seconds, they were a second and a half faster than Daniel Bluman and Gemma W, and the winner of the Grand Prix this year at the Hampton Classic Horse Show.

Karl Cook and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet are honored at the 2022 Hampton Classic Grand Prix
Karl Cook and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet are honored at the 2022 Hampton Classic Grand Prix© KindMedia

What a wonderful day this was. And with the presentation of the prize to the winner out in the center of the ring completed, the crowd slowly and happily disbursed to leave the horse show grounds and head off on their way, to either home, another party or New York City. It was another great horse show well done and well run. Hats off to all who made this happen.

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