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HUNTINGTON BEACH : A Benefit That’s Really Jumping

White tents pitched on the lawn. A grass arena filled with colorful jumping fences. Top-notch horses and riders. Shade trees that dot the picturesque park.

This was the scene of GTE’s “The Everything Pages” Summer Classic V, a benefit equestrian event that continues today and Sunday at Huntington Central Park.

Since 1990, the Summer Classic, which started Wednesday, has been the No. 1 fund-raiser for the Huntington Beach Art Center. The event is expected to raise about $75,000 for the Art Center, opening its first exhibition in February, said Michael Mudd,city cultural services manager. Last year’s Summer Classic raised $50,000.

General admission to the event is free. VIP seating under the tent is available for $75 and $125, and includes breakfast, a catered luncheon, beverages and entertainment. Tickets will be available at the gate.

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Spectators Willis and Stella McComas,20-year Huntington Beach residents who watched jumping events Friday, were impressed with the riders and their horses.

“This is the first time we’ve been here to watch the jumpers,” Stella McComas said. “It’s a real thrill.”

For the first time, the event has moved to the park, adjacent to the equestrian center.

“We’ve refurbished the disc golf course into basically one of the finest show grounds in Southern California,” said Tom Gallagher, production event coordinator. “This is a beautiful atmosphere--the ambience, the trees, the tents--and no dust.” Gallagher said the event has attracted the best horses and riders in the sport to compete for prizes in excess of $50,000.

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Gallagher said there are more than 300 horse and rider teams--100 more competitors than last year.

Riders and trainers agreed that holding jumping events on the grass heightens the appeal.

Competitor Valerie Parr of Santa Ana, one of the top amateur riders in Southern California, said that the grass arena and the prize money are the main draw.

Parr will be among about 30 competitors in today’s $10,000 First Interstate Bank Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper Classic, riding her horse, “Last Laff.”

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Competitions are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, with opening ceremonies at noon. Sunday’s highlights are the high jump competition and the “Let’s Make A Deal” jumpers, starting at noon.

The event is sponsored by the Huntington Beach Art Center Foundation, Central Park Equestrian Center, the city, and GTE Directories Corp. The park is off Golden West Street, between Talbert and Ellis avenues, next to the equestrian center.


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