Looking back at the 2022 Hampton Classic

There were 30,000 people there for the Hampton Classic Grand Prix, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg. (Like being president, once the mayor, always the mayor.)  Of course his daughter, Georgina Bloomberg, is an accomplished equestrian, and she was riding that Sunday, September 4. Who else was there? Everyone, as they say.

Julie Stone, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jay Schneiderman (photo Lisa Tamburini)

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schniederman, of course, and, never to miss a social occasion, Maria Fishel and Jean Shafiroff and Antonella Bertello of the Baker House 1650. John Paulson was there. Does that constitute everyone? Not yet. There were so many more.

Keith Green and Ann Ciardullo, a real estate team (photo Katlean de Monchy)

There were politicians, realtors, celebrities, regular folks, fashionistas, photographers, lots of children, budding equestrian and indulgent parents, animal lovers, reporters, people just out for fun days. This was true all week, but came to a head on Sunday.

Let’s rewind, because the exciting story began on Friday, when Karl Cook won what he referred to as the “highly technical” Douglas Elliman CSI5* $74,000 Grand Prix Qualifier on Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet. There were 35 riders and 16 fences. No points for style. Just getting over the fences without faults in the best time. The rider for Israel, Daniel Bluman, came in second.

Karl Cook winning the $74,000 Douglas Elliman CSI5 * Grand Prix Qualifier (photo © KindMedia)

That set up what was to become a battle between the two men. On Saturday it was the Douglas Elliman $74,000  Hampton Classic 2* Grand Prix. In this one Daniel Bluman of Israel rode the French gelding Cachemire De Braize, a horse he has been riding successfully throughout the 2023 season.

Chris Robbins, Luann de Lesseps (Photo Katlean de Monchy)

Last year, Bluman, on Cachemire, won the Elliman Classic 2* Grand Prix, beating Karl Cook.

Dan Bluman on Cachemire winning the Elliman Grand Pix (Photo © KindMedia)

The people who turn up on Sunday for the legendary Grand Prix (the prize, which does not all go to the top horse and rider, was $410,000 last year, and is $425,000 this year) do not necessarily turn out because they know the ins and outs of the horse world. They do know that it is thrilling to watch. And that it is breath-taking and exciting.

There is shopping. (This year, a new horse Christmas tree ornament.) On Monday, a day with no competitions, there will be dog, cat, horse and donkey adoptions. Admission the entire week is only $20 per car, so it is an affordable day for anyone. Hats are optional for the Grand Prix tent, but the ladies love to emulate the Derby, and haul out their chapeaux.

Lieba Nesis, Katlean de Monchy, Jean Shafiroff, Maria Fishel (photo Lisa Tamburini)

And so it was on Sunday that the crowds turned out. It costs extra to sit in the grandstand for the Grand Prix: $60. Otherwise people lagging behind in the tents may only hear the excited cries and moans as horses clip a rail, or, what’s worse, refuse a jump. Or the gasps when a rider makes a miraculous recovery.

Alina de Almeida and John Paulson (photo Katlean de Monchy)

This time Daniel Bluman was on a white mount, Gemma W., and Karl Cook chose to remain on Kalinka, the Belgian warmblood mare owned by his mother. He described Kalinka as “hot, a bit wacky, a little small, and has an inverted-type jump,” But, he said, she is fast.

Karl Cook again on Kalinka. (Photo compliments of Dan Rattiner, Dan’s Paper)

Nine countries were in competition for the Grand Prix, and some 30 riders. The required preparations, as each rider walked the course of 17 obstacles, marking off the distance between them, and then came back and traveled the course with their horse, each taking a turn, made for a long process before the actual competition. But at 1:30 the Grand Prix began.

Rita Crosby, Tomaczek Bednarek (Photo Lisa Tamburini)

The 30 were whittled down to nine riders to compete in the jump-off. Only five of those scored a double-clear, that is, they made it through two rounds of the remaining obstacles without a fault.

It was an American, Katie Dinan, who set the time to beat. She and her horse, Brego R’N B, a Dutch Warmblood gelding, did the course in 38.320 seconds. Next to ride was Daniel Bluman, on Gemma W.

He completed the course in 36.930 seconds, beating Katie Dinan’s time.

But there was one more rider to go. Karl Cook, who was riding for the first time in the Hampton Classic, and for the first time in a Five Star Grand Prix.

Pressure? If you know anything about competitive jumping, that’s what it’s all about.

Karl Cook and his hot, small, wacky Kalinka took the course. They might have seemed a bit slow at the start but they picked up speed and by the end their time was … 36.710 seconds, or .2 seconds faster than Bluman’s.

Karl Cook on Kalinka at the Grand Prix (photo © KindMedia)

It was Cook, Bluman and Dinan.

This next Sunday, Cook riding Kalinka and Bluman will be back at the Grand Prix. And just for fun, they will be joined by the US Olympian McLain Ward on HH Azur, three Canadians — Mario Deslauriers and his daughter Lucy, and Tiffany Foster — and Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil.

The competition will be fierce. The hats will be lovely. The merchandise will be beguiling.

The tables will be sold. The tents will be buzzing. And who knows?

There may be another Karl Cook, a first time Hampton Classic entrant, riding a horse owned by his mom, or an uncle, who takes it all..