By Jonathan Phelps
---- — IPSWICH — The Jumper Classic is returning to its North Shore roots five years after moving to New Hampshire.
The Classic, an international, equestrian show jumping event, will be held July 10-14 at the 100-acre Maple-croft Farm on Essex Street.
What began as the Ritz Carlton Jumper Classic at a Bridge Street farm in Hamilton in 1989 has evolved into a grand prix challenge that draws thousands of spectators each year. The event was held at the Myopia Schooling Fields on Route 1A in Hamilton for six years, before moving to Silver Oak Equestrian Center in Hampton Falls, N.H., in 2008. Organizers moved the event to Silver Oak because they could not come to financial terms with the Myopia Hunt Club.
But before Myopia, the event was held for two years at Maplecroft Farm.
This year’s classic will feature everything from children’s classes to a $75,000 grand Prix prize event. While it previously took place in September, the event has been moved to July to make sure school-aged riders can participate, said Melissa Lovasco, president and CEO since 1999. Many top international riders in the Olympic sport will take part in the competitions.
“We are very excited,” Lovasco said. “We missed being on the North Shore.”
Lovasco said the event lost the equestrian community feel of the North Shore since moving to New Hampshire, but said the event has grown from 400 horses to about 600 horses since moving.
The event will take place on the Maplecroft’s polo field with grass footings. Many competitions now take place on sand, Lovasco said.
“A lot of competitions don’t have grass,” she said. “So when riders get to compete on grass, it is a treat.”
The farm has easy access on Route 133 and there is plenty of parking on the property, Lovasco said.
With 10,000 to 12,000 spectators expected over the course of the week, the event is also considered an economic engine. Many will stay at local hotels and go to local restaurants, Lovasco said.
According to a study by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, more than $14.4 million was spent by participants and spectators in Boston and on the North Shore in 2007.
The late Don Little of Ipswich, who started the Jumper Classic 24 years ago, also started a similar event at Myopia in 2010. That event will not take place this year, Lovasco said.
Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.