The 46th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, August 28-September 4, drew approximately 1,500 horses. Riders representing 13 countries raved about the Classic’s new Grand Prix Arena and, with its new FEI 5* status, the 2022 Classic had many of these riders calling this the best Hampton Classic ever!
American Karl Cook made his first time at the Classic one to remember as he took top honors in the $74,000 Douglas Elliman 5* Grand Prix Qualifier, $410,000 Hampton Classic 5* Grand Prix and the $30,000 LONGINES Rider Challenge.
This year’s Classic was rated USEF ‘Premier-6’ for both hunters and jumpers with FEI 2* and 5* classes. Ireland’s Alan Wade served as Grand Prix Ring course designer. The Classic attracted its usual list of celebrities throughout the week, including Kelly Bensimon, Katie Lee Biegel, Michael Bloomberg, Lorraine Bracco, Christie Brinkley, Matthew Broderick, Jessica Capshaw, Chelsea Clinton, Mariska Hargitay, Donna Karan, Kelly Klein, Don Lemon, Luann de Lesseps, TJ Miller, Daphne Oz, Jill Rappaport, Brooke Shields and Molly Sims.
The culminating $410,000 Hampton Classic 5* Grand Prix on Sunday, September 4, saw 30 entries representing nine countries challenge Alan Wade’s (IRL) final course of the week, a winding 1.60m course featuring 17 efforts. Defending champions Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Gemma W, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Blue Star Investments, gave it their best effort with a double-clear time of 36.930 seconds but ultimately landed in second behind Qualifier winners Karl Cook and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet.
“I watched Karl’s ride, and he’s a deserving winner,” Bluman said. “He rode great all week and had a lot of success, and I already knew when I crossed the timers that he would beat my time. It was just a matter of if the rails stayed up or didn’t. I tried to get the crowd going to interfere with his focus, but I know Karl. He’s a winner, and I did absolutely everything I could. I’m very happy for him.”
Last to go, Cook and the fast-footed Kalinka shaved 0.2 seconds off Bluman’s time, stopping the clock at 36.710 seconds for top honors. This win, which was Cook’s first Five Star grand prix victory, also landed him on top of the leaderboard in the $30,000 LONGINES Rider Challenge, earning him the $30,000 cash bonus and a new LONGINES watch.
“It’s great to be here,” Cook said of his first time at the Hampton Classic. “I’m so glad I came here. I’m grateful to my mom, who owns the horse, and it’s just great that we’ve worked so hard with that mare, had our highs and lows, and still had everything come together. If you see her, she’s hot, a bit wacky, a little small, and has an inverted-type jump,” he added of Signe Ostby’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. “But the only reason she can do this is because she wants it. She tries so hard for it.”
The Hampton Classic continued to support several charity partners such as the Kevin Babington Foundation, which benefited from an exciting new addition to this year’s show. For every clear round jumped over the initial course in the $410,000 Hampton Classic 5* Grand Prix, the Koenigsberg family donated $5,000 to the Kevin Babington Foundation. Nine horse-and-rider combinations made it to the jump-off, leading to a $45,000 donation from the Koenigsbergs.
All Grand Prix Arena competitors had the opportunity throughout the week to ride on the new state-of-the-art all-weather footing installed by Travis Gould and his JTWG, Inc., under the guidance of iEquitek’s Bill Hawe and in consultation with Oliver Hoberg. The footing received rave reviews across the board.