68th Celebration Closes Without Crowning Grand Champion


Inspection Inconsistencies Marr Final Night


By Mark Davis


            Well, the night that everyone in the Walking Horse World has waited on all year long has finally arrived.  It’s Saturday Night in Shelbyville and tonight, the remaining divisional World Grand Champions will be crowded leading up to the pinnacle of the season, the crowning of the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion. 

            The question now is who will that be?  Will it be Master Of Jazz or Private Charter, the Aged Stallion winners from Saturday Night?  Could Reserve winners It’s Billy The Kid or The Image Of Ritz step up and walk away with the honors?  Or could there be a strong surprise performance from MG Above The Rest, NYPD, Strong Dollar, Rowdy Rev to claim the ultimate award.  It’s happened before and could happen again.  It promises to be an exciting night and we will have to just wait and see what unfolds.

            Ah, but we still have a great night of horse show leading up to the World Grand Championship event with 11 more exciting classes of competition.  Also, this was Patriotic Night at The Celebration and in addition to the normal opening ceremonies, with the invocation given by Rev. Ron DeWitt pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, Shelbyville, Tenn., the national anthem being performed in conjunction with a multi-media performance by Lori O’Brien of Atlanta, Ga.  It was truly an experience to remember.

            As with the previous performances, tonight’s were officiated by Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Wink Groover of Longview, Texas, Tommy Loid of Bowling Green, Ky., Huck Moss of Trenton, S.C., and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            As the time very quickly approached 7 pm, the big Saturday night crowd was quickly gathering in the big oval, the Boy Scouts from Troop #370 of Shelbyville, Tenn. moved to center ring with the extra large American Flag used in the opening ceremonies and everyone was more than ready for the really big show to get underway.  And, get underway it did, promptly at 7pm, with Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton, rider of 1979 WGC Threat’s Supreme, riding into the ring presenting the colors.  Tonight, breaking with tradition, the duo was excused from the ring after making a pass around the ring and the color guard from Clarksville, Tenn.’s Ft. Campbell Army Post entered the ring to post the colors as a part of the Patriotic Night ceremonies.  After Ms. O’Brien’s thrilling performance, we were once again honored to have an overhead visit from a Blackhawk helicopter from the Tennessee Army National Guard.

            After a quick fly by, it was time to get the horse show underway and call Class 151 to the ring for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship.  Five of 10 with reservations made their way to the ring to work for Championship acclaim as Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits.  Making a real dream come true in Shelbyville tonight was JFK’s Irish Dream and Sue Harrington riding proudly to the winner’s circle to claim the roses for Joe Harrington of LaQuinta, Calif.  Stirring up a commotion for reserve were I’m Causin’ Commotion and Debbie Myers in the irons for Jim & Debbie Myers of Flat Creek, Tenn.  In Command Again and Sheryl Crawford were third for Crawford Colts, LLC of Carrollton, Ga.

            Working in the western way, class 152 brought the Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship to the ring with all 11 horses expected making the way down the chute to hit the happy trails for Judge Jamie Bradshaw and staff.  Making that cherished victory ride in the event and taking the honors back to the Pacific Northwest was Marquita By Design and Craig Swagerty  riding for Karrie Paul of Edwall, Wash.  Already a WGC in the Western Canter event, Drop The Hammer and B.J. Richards pulled into the second position for Stacey Richards of Franklin, Tenn.  Steel Watch and owner/exhibitor Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., accepted the yellow streamers.

            Back in the performance division, 15 of the 16 expected for class 153, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship hit the rail to work for their chance at World Championship acclaim tonight as Judge Wink Groover and the panel looked on.  When the work was complete and the judge’s cards were in, Announcer Chip Walters called Alicia Perry McDaniel and her big walking, ground covering buddy, Muddy Buddy, World Champions in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Stallions, Div B on Tuesday night, to the winner’s circle as she had a big smile on her face for The David Perry Family of Gaffney, S.C.  Simply Jose’ and Debbie Myers, Div A preliminary World Champions, were a strong reserve for Jim & Debbie Myers of Flat Creek, Tenn.  Sherry Pollack and I’m P. Diddy were third for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. 

            Taking a break in the action, 2005 World Grand Champion Main Power and Joe Cotten made their way to the ring to show off in exhibition for the extra large Saturday night crowd.  He was well received by the crowd and headed back out of the ring to head back to his duties in the breeding shed at Shelbyville, Tenn’s Summit Stallions at Sand Creek Farm.

            Getting back to the Championship action, Class 154 brought the 15.2 and Under Walking Horse World Grand Championship (Canter) to the ring with all six of those expected making the call to show off their very best for Call Judge Tommy Loid and his cohorts.  While this may not have been the largest class of the night, the competition was stiff with all six horses showing their very best for the panel and the crowd, but right before the work was complete, the real storm blew in and Santana’s El Nino and Link Webb impressed the panel moving to the top of all five cards to ride out with the roses for Michael and Ann Jones’ Ringmaster Farms of Lafayette, Ga. Dragonfly and Jimmy McConnell were impressive in accepting the reserve for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J.  A Formula One and Robert Stivers were third for Stan Wilcoxen of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. 

            The babies were up next on the schedule as all 16 entries scheduled to appear made their way to the track in class 155, the Walking Weanling World Grand Championship, for their chance at early in life success as Judge Huck Moss served as Call Judge.  Whoopin it up in the division were Whoopin’ It In Command and Nathan Mills, already finding success at the TWHBEA National Futurity and in the Celebration’s Mare and Foal division, the duo walked to the winner’s circle for Nathan and April Mills of Nashville, Tenn.  She’s A Teddy Bear and Karen McGee were reserve for Skipworth and Luttrell of Olaton & Bowling Green, Ky.  She’s All Cashed In and Bobby Richards were third for Charles Gleghorn of Fayetteville, Tenn.

            The action under saddle continued in class 156, the Two-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  Thirteen of the seventeen with reservations came down to the big oval to show off as Judge Ronnie Spears led the panel.  Schooling the competition and walking away with the divisional roses were the duo of The Coach and Joe Cotten, champions at the 2006 TWHBEA National Futurity, showing for Holland and Kilgore of Decatur and Tuscaloosa, Ala.  Palm Beach Ritz and Billy Gray were a popular reserve in the event for William B. & Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga.  He’s Out Of Sight and Jackie McConnell were third for Kelly Sherman of Dallas, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.

            The pleasure horses showed up strong in class 157, Owner-Amateur Riders on Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship with 19 of the 20 expected taking to the track to work as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits in the division.  Only one team could ride away from the event with the title of World Grand Champion and that one duo was beaming with pride as Chip Walters announced called Pusher’s Beaming Pride and Jim Nichols to the winner’s circle for Debbie & Jim Nichols of New Market, Tenn.  With this win, and their win in this division in 2004, the Nichols retire the Foxtrot Farm Challenge Trophy.  Commanding Dakota and Kathy Owen were a strong reserve for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  B.J. Richards and Drop The Hammer collected the yellow silks for Stacey Richards of Franklin, Tenn.

            Class 158 featured the Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship (Canter) with two of the four with reservations coming down the chute to work as Judge Wink Groover led the panel.  Riding to the top of the event was the stylish mare Watch For Glory and Herbert Derickson showing for proud daughters, Erica and Maria Derickson of Wartrace, Tenn.  Dollar’s Direct Deposit and Casey Wright were reserve for Jim Roberts of Wildersville, Tenn.           

            Returning to the Pleasure division for one final time on the schedule, class 159 brought the Park Pleasure World Grand Championship to the ring with nine of the 11 programmed entries making the call to work for Judge Tommy Loid and his cohorts.  Making the victory pass in the event was A Neon Knight and a very happy Howard Hamilton carrying out the roses for Randall & Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga.  This win, coupled with a 2004 win in the division, retired the Pusher’s All Lit Up Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Shelia Mack Kyle Memorial/Generator’s Elegance Challenge Trophy.  Gold Danger and Bart Gilmer collected the red streamers for Susannah Borg of Ponte Verde, Fla.  Ray Gilmer and Extra Cash’s Grey Eagle were third for Gandy & Lubin of Forest City, Ark. & Memphis, Tenn.

            Ten of the 15 expected for class 160, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship hit the track ready to ride for that unforgettable moment under the spotlight.  Judge Huck Moss served as Call Judge for the event.  Shocking the competition once again as they rode away with the tri colors was Shock Jock and owner/exhibitor Becky Coleman of Money, Miss.  Lee Wall and Jacked up were strong in their reserve performance for Lee Wall and Mike McGartland of Jackson, Miss. & Ft. Worth, Texas.  The striking grey, Grey Line and Clay Mills were third for Lee Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.

            Class 160, the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship brought four of the seven expected to the big oval to work as Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits in the division.  Taking the championship win with a unanimous decision of the panel was the preliminary champion, The Golden Sovereign and Keith McSwain riding for The Dan McSwain Family of Atlanta, Ga.  More Of The Major and Kay Green picked up the red streamers for Dr. Jim & Kay Green of Meridian, Miss.  Generator’s Champion and Jonathan Jones were third for Brett & Lisa Jones of Tylertown, Miss.

            Ah, finally what everyone has been waiting for, class 162, The Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  After the routine drag of the track that has become a Celebration tradition over the past years, Announcer Chip Walters took to the microphone.  He took the opportunity to thank everyone that has stuck with the show through the week, even when times had been tough.  He stated that many of the horses that we had expected to see over the past few nights had either not made it through the inspection process or elected not to show due to the issues in the inspection area.  He continued by saying  that there were still issues tonight  and many of the horses for the world grand championship class had been turned down and the one’s that remained elected not to show.  The crowd on hand responded with a thunderous round of applause.  He took the opportunity to encourage the crowd of over 26,000 on hand not to worry because there are many people working hard and that hard work will continue into the fall and winter to get this thing right.  With that, Larry Bright played his signature “Just The Way You Are” as the crowd filed out of the stands.

            Reports were that after the inspection process was compete, the only three horses that remained were Rowdy Rev, trained by Bill Bobo; A Strong Dollar, trained by Link Webb; and MG Above The Rest, trained by Allen Abee.

            Unfortunately, the 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship didn’t end on the note anticipated, but fortunately the fans understood the decision made by the trainers and we, like Announcer Walters, can only hope that the industry leaders can pull together to get the issues that have plagued this show and shows throughout the year resolved so the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship doesn’t have to struggle with these same issues once again.