Horse country just threw a shoe.

The Fidelity Jumper Classic, a fall fixture in Hamilton for the past 19 years, is pulling up stakes. The five-day equestrian grand prix is relocating to the Silver Oak Equestrian Center in Hampton Falls, N.H.

The Classic's departure robs Hamilton and the rest of the North Shore of a prestigious event attended by spectators and riders from around the world and an economic engine, as well. 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 last year.

The nonprofit event benefits City Saddles, which introduces inner-city kids to horses, and Love Lane Therapeutic Riding, where people with mental and physical handicaps ride horses as therapy.

The Classic, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, had a seven-year lease for the Myopia Schooling Fields on Route 1A in Hamilton that expired this year. Jeff Papows, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Jumper Classic, said the Myopia Hunt Club, which owns the schooling fields, demanded an increase in the lease and a share of TV revenues and media rights.

"That rubbed me the wrong way," Papows said.

Dave Cugini, manager of the Myopia Hunt Club, said yesterday he could not answer any questions about the negotiations.

The Classic spent about $85,000 a year on the lease and mowing the 22-acre field every year.

Papows said he could have lived with the 150 percent increase in the lease Myopia was looking to get, but not the other demands.

The negotiations became a conflict of personalities, Papows said, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized it was time for a change, anyway.

The organization spent $230,000 over the past few years improving the conditions of the Myopia fields, but they still weren't top-notch for Olympic athletes and their mounts, Papows said.

"They're a B-plus," he said. "They're not bad but they're not the caliber of Silver Oak."

And what began as the Ritz Carlton Jumper Classic at a Bridge Street farm in Hamilton | an event Papows characterized as a "backyard horse show" | has evolved into a grand prix challenge that drew 10,000 spectators on the final Sunday last year. Competitors were complaining the grounds were becoming too congested, and Papows had to turn away 200 riders last year due to lack of space.

Silver Oak is 130 acres and boasts a grass jumping ring plus four-all weather rings.

Papows said he regrets the Classic leaving the North Shore, where he grew up. He predicted the departure will be felt by local business, since riders come to these events with an entourage of groomers and trainers.

"They all need places to stay and places to eat," Papows said.

In all likelihood, the Classic would have been back in Hamilton again this year if negotiations had gone better.

"I probably wouldn't have done it (moved) if they hadn't pushed me," Papows said.

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