All Eyes on Leadliners at the Hampton Classic

Some 200 young local riders ranging in age from 2 to 7 years old and dressed to the nines inaugurated the weeklong show in Bridgehampton.
Isla Mnuchin of East End Stables in East Hampton won a section of the 2-to-4-year-old division on opening day. Jack Graves

Under the watchful eyes of trainers and fussed over by anxious parents before they entered the resplendent Grand Prix ring, some 200 young local riders ranging in age from 2 to 7 years old and dressed to the nines inaugurated the weeklong Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton Sunday morning under sunny skies.

Caroline Lloyd, whose 4-year-old daughter, Victoria, won one of four 2-to-4 leadline sections, said, with a laugh, that Vicky had ridden “since before she was born.”

“I used to ride,” she added, in answer to a question, “at a high amateur level. Then I had four kids.”

The Roman children get around. Victoria and her siblings, Luca, 2, Francesca, 7, and Isabella, 8, ride on Town Lane in East Hampton, on Martha’s Vineyard, and in Wellington, Fla. Victoria’s leader that day was John Brennan, Missy Clark’s partner in North Run Stables in Warren, Vt.

Acknowledging that riding could be an expensive sport, Brussell said, “Yes, I wish she had picked volleyball, but this was her idea. My wife and I don’t know where it came from. . . .”

Eventually she would be able to earn her keep, to pay for lessons by muc king out stalls and such, this writer ventured. 

“Yeah,” said Brussell, “but she’s only 6! Hopefully, it will happen soon.”

As for Bonac’s volleyball teams, they, the boys and the girls, should do well this fall, he said. “They’re both young with a lot of talent; it will be exciting.”

Nearby in the crowded warm-up ring, Kristy Eberhart, who teaches at the John M. Marshall Elementary School in East Hampton, was ministering to her daughter, Kailey, who goes to the Springs School, and who is trained by her aunt, Katherine Eberhart of Swan Creek Farms in Bridgehampton. 

“Sit straight, butt out,” Katherine Eberhart advised her niece.

Asked if she had competed in Classic leadline classes before, Kailey’s mother said, “This is her third or fourth time . . . no, third . . . oops, she’s going into the ring,” she said, rushing toward the entry gates.

Mercedes Mann of the Topping Riding Club led Ava Cederholm around the ring twice that morning, to a section win in the 5-to-7 division.

Given that Ava had spent most of the summer in Sweden, she was proud of her showing, the trainer said later, Ava’s only demerit apparently arising from the fact that in going from a walk to a trot, she had bent forward rather than remaining erect.

When this writer interviewed Ava, who also won a leadline section last year, he said she ought to see the “Harry and Snowman” documentary on Netflix. Her light blue eyes widened when he said Snowman (Harry De Leyer’s Hall of Fame jumper) had once soared over seven feet, and could swim too, with several of the De Leyer children on his back.

“We love Topping’s,” said Ava’s mother, Christine. “They have a great group of trainers and kids there.” 

In an interview earlier this summer, Mercedes Mann had said, in parting, “The pony campers would love it if we could put bunk beds in the stable.”

The 2-to-4 leadline class was presented by Brennan’s Bit and Bridle, whose owner, Natalie Nessel, an East Hamptoner, said, before pinning ribbons on, that business was good. “We’ve outfitted most of these kids,” she said. 

Natalie’s mother, Diane O’Donnell, has coached East Hampton High’s girls cross-country team for many years. Where her mother and stepfather, Bill, live, on Cedar Street, “used to be Gerald Stanley’s property. It came with a 12-stall barn in the back, which has since burned down.”

“I was the only one in the family who rode,” she said in answer to a question. She couldn’t get her stepfather — an inveterate runner and triathlete — to ride, she said, “but he did take care of the horses.”

Nowadays she rides “at a friend’s house.” Within the confines of the property at the moment, though, once the traffic dies down, she hoped, she said, to ride again on the trails.

Joe Fargis, an Olympic gold medalist and veteran Grand Prix competitor, judged the leadline classes, as he has many times in the past, and was applauded by the gallery for his efforts.

Another 2-to-4 section winner was Isla Mnuchin, of East End Stables, which is owned by Andre and Christine De Leyer. Other 5-to-7 section winners were Ava Patino of Bridgehampton and Tatum Scharf of Water Mill.

The day’s big event, the $30,000 Boar’s Head Open Jumper Challenge, which attracted 70 entries, was won by Amanda Derbyshire, on Lady Maria BH, with Brianne Goutal and Onira second, and Richie Moloney (the winner of last year’s Grand Prix) and Slieveanorra third.

The $10,000 Marders Local Hunter Derby was won by Royal Expectation, ridden by Laura Bowery, with True Story, ridden by Holly Orlando, second, and Adelina, ridden by Jennifer Hannon, third. Trip to Paris, ridden by Orlando, topped the three Local Hunter Pro sections sponsored by The East Hampton Star. The Eddie Horowitz Memorial Trophy went to them.

Victoria Roman, of East Hampton, Martha’s Vineyard, and Wellington, Fla., was hugged by her leader, John Brennan, after her win in Sunday’s 2-to-4-year-old leadline class. Caroline Lloyd
Josh Brussell, East Hampton High’s boys volleyball coach, said riding had been his 6-year-old daughter Aurora’s idea. Jack Graves
Amanda Derbyshire and Lady Maria BH topped 70 entries in the Hampton Classic’s opening day $30,000 Boar’s Head Jumper Challenge. Durell Godfrey