Horses will twice make leap into the limelight
The jumpers are coming.
Again this year, two major events showcasing Olympic-caliber equestrian jumping will be held north of Boston. The four-day Putnam Boston Equestrian Classic begins today and runs through Sunday at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton.
The following week, the five-day Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic, begins on Wednesday at Silver Oak Equestrian Center in Hampton Falls, N.H.
Both promise to draw large crowds and deliver top-flight equestrian entertainment along with a variety of social activities.
The Hamilton event changed its name this year, substituting the word “equestrian’’ for “jumper,’’ and broadened its focus, adding a “horseless horse show’’ (in which kids jump over some jumps), an agility competition for dogs, and - as part of Sunday’s main event - jousting by the Paragon Jousting Troupe. Organizers were also trying to secure a visit from some members of the Boston Bruins for Saturday’s family day.
“I love show jumping, but [many] people don’t know it, and don’t quite understand it,’’ said event chairman Don Little, who said the event itself is intended to introduce more people to the sport. “It’s going to be a festive, family, fun weekend.’’
About 450 horses are expected at the Hamilton show, which drew approximately 3,000 people last year, according to organizers. There will also be 60 tents for vendors, supporting Little’s theory that “America’s favorite sport is shopping.’’
The event will offer a $50,000 showcase Grand Prix event, to be held on Sunday. The festivities that day also include a 9/11 tribute with local firefighters, skydivers, the Myopia hounds, and jousting.
Gates open at 10 a.m., general admission is free, and parking will cost $20 on weekend days. For more information or to purchase champagne luncheon tickets, call 978-491-9456 or visit www.bostonequestrianclassic.com.
Next week, beginning Wednesday, local and international riders will compete in Hampton Falls, N.H., for the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic, a larger show with more top international riders. Chairman Jeff Papows said the event is nearly at capacity - 750 horses, 500 to 550 riders - and may draw as many as 15,000 spectators.
The Jumper Classic was run for years at sites in Ipswich and Hamilton before moving to Hampton Falls. When Little founded the Hamilton horse show last year, he predicted that many riders would seize the opportunity to ride in both, because the short commute in between would create less wear and tear on the horses.
“There has been an accrued benefit for both venues,’’ Papows said, as several riders and horses are expected to compete in both events, including Boston Bruins principal Charlie Jacobs, an accomplished equestrian. Little plans to ride in Hampton Falls, and Papows said he may ride in the Hamilton event this year.
In addition to world-class equestrian competition in a modern facility - culminating in the $75,000 Grand Prix on Sept. 18 - the Jumper Classic will feature singers, celebrities, vendor tents, champagne luncheons, and other social activities.
Other highlights will be the Sept. 15 meet-and-greet session at 4:30 p.m. with riders, which has become popular with parents and kids, and family day on Sept. 17.
The meet-and-greet will also launch Papows’s new book, “Unbridled Passion: Show Jumping’s Greatest Horses and Riders.’’ Twenty of the 25 riders featured in the book will be at the jumping event, and available for autographs during the five days.
Admission is free until the weekend, when tickets top out at a maximum $25 for adult general admission. For more information, visit jumperclassic.com.