by Mark Davis

   Champion And Mills Score Three-peat In Open Amateur Stallions The fans begin to gather, the officials head to center ring and The Celebration's official flag horse, Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton head down the hill and wait at the gate for announcer Chip Walters to welcome them to the arena in one of the greatest of Celebration traditions.      
   The invocation for the Wednesday evening performance was given by the Rev. Chuck Essary of First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn. with the Barker Sisters of Readyville, Tenn presenting the National Anthem.
   With the opening ceremonies complete, it was time to call the first class, Open Fine Harness, class 124A to the ring with 11 of the 20 with reservations making the call to work for Judge Stephen Brown and staff.  Capturing the first blue of final preliminary night, California Celebration champion General Custer and Scott Benham, 2004 World Champions in the division, drove to top honors for Steven Bourne's Nevada B Ranch of Gardnerville, NV.  Perennial champion Genius' Gold Spirit and Ramsey Bullington wheeled in for the reserve title for The Robert Keenan Family of Franklin, Tenn.  The Luther Fuller Family's The Games We Play and Knox Blackburn scored third.
   Eight of 20 worked the track in class 124, Open Fine Harness, with Judge Mack Motes calling the gaits in the event.  Making the drive to the winner's circle, the Classic Horse, On The Money and Byrdstown, Tenn. trainer Scott Beaty dominated the competition in the elegant event for the Double Springs Farm of Murfreeboro, Tenn.  One thing is for sure, this win will make big news in Byrdstown!  Definitely front page material for the Pickett County Press!  Reserve in the division went to Julio-Julio and Dick Peebles at the lines for Wayne and Joyce Meadows of Ashland City, Tenn.  Choice Of Silver and Mark West accepted third for Partners By Choice of Manchester, Murfreesboro & Etowah, Tenn.
   The amateurs were back in the big oval for class 125A, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, with 20 of the 40 scheduled to appear making their way down the hill to work for that Celebration blue under the watchful eye of Judge Mike Sims and his cohorts.  Capturing the blue with a stellar performance was Gail Walling and Labeled In Lace, champions at Dickson, Tenn.'s Dickson County Horse Show, riding for Mark & Gail Walling of Wartrace, Tenn.  2005 World Champion Three-Year-Old Mare, Hey Hey Ole and Bob Medina picked up the red streamer for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman , N.J.  Taking the yellow streamer back to Gassaway, WV., owner/exhibitor Jack Radar and Hitt Happens accepted third.
   Class 125B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, brought 17 of the 38 on the sheets to the ring to strut their stuff for Judge Sam Sorrell and The Celebration panel.  Taking the title back to Ole' Virginny, She's Push In Command and owner/exhibitor Connie Hess of Harrisonburg, Va.  excited the crowd with their strong performance.  A High Dollar Charge and Beverly Sherman worked hard and received the crowd's approval as well as they garnered the reserve title for Floyd Sherman of Dallas, Texas.  Another entry from the Lone Star state,The Family Jewels and Debbie Frankino, tied third for Bob & Debbie Frankino of Cypress, Texas.
   During a break in the action, Keith & Suzy Johnson made their way to center ring to present their best show ring attire awards.  Capturing the title in the youth division was Miss Haley Douglas of Murfreeboro, Tenn.  Meg Young of Boaz, Ala. picked up the honors in the amateur division while Brock Tillman of Shelbyville, Tenn. topped the professional division.  Once again, this competition was sponsored by Corner Cleaners of Shelbyville, Tenn.
   This being another of the extra large divisions that required three divisions, announcer Chip Walters called the 18 expected for class 125C, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings.  Judge Sam Sorrell served as call judge in the division.  Topping the division was Lone Commander and Alicia Avent riding for mother, Lucy Blackmon of Rayle, Ga.  Mrs. Blackmon is the sister of longtime trainer Allan Callaway.  
   This reporter, as do many others in the industry, would like to express deepest sympathies to the Blackmon & Callaway families on the passing of their mother, Mrs. Helen Callaway today.  Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time.  One would have only had to meet Mrs. Callaway one time to understand a lot about her son that we all know so well.  She was quiet, but firm and the truest of southern ladies.  One of my most vivid memories of Mrs. Callaway came shortly after Allan's induction to The Celebration Hall Of Fame.  Of course, his induction was supposed to be a surprise and the question was asked of Mrs. Callaway how they ever got Allan to put on the tuxedo to go to the banquet.  She responded,"I just told him to put on the damn' tux," and of course he did.  I'm sure she's looking down from heaven with a smile tonight cheering granddaughter Alicia on as she made that victory ride.  She will sincerely be missed.  
   Taking the reserve title in the division was Santa Monica and Stacy Blackburn riding for Richmond & Blackburn of Crockett, Texas and Franklin, Tenn.  Dr. In Command and Jamie "Red" Etheredge scored the third award for Jamie and Donna Etheredge of Collinsville, Ala.
   Class 126 brought 13 of 38 to the ring for the Walking Geldings, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter).  Judge Stephen Brown called the gaits in the division.     Armed To Show and Larry Edwards topped the very tough division for The Dan McSwain Family of Atlanta, Ga. Joe Cotten & Cheatin' Danger, a 2005 World Champion in the amateur division, accepted the red streamer for Trish Harrison & Four Centuries Farm of Nashville & Greenville, Tenn.  Secret Sky and Bill Bobo walked out with the yellow streamer for Kelly Moore of Martin, Tenn.
   Next up on the agenda was a very special class, class 127, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Riders 70 & Over.  Fifteen classic riders made the call to work for Judge Mack Motes and his cohorts.  Striding to the top of the event, receiving the approval of the crowd, was another true southern lady, Jeanine Gullett and JFK Again riding for Ronnie Gullett of Duluth, Ga.  This team preceded this win with taking top honors at Columbia, Tenn.'s Money Tree Classic.  Bravado and Jimmy Lackey tied in the second position for Jimmy & Carol Lackey of Forrest, Miss. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Owner/exhibitor Bill Harlin and The Revelation carried the third award back to Franklin, Tenn.  How many other breeds of horses could you find that would have a division full of riders over 70 years of age?  Pretty remarkable, indeed.
   Park Performance Walking Horses, Five Years and Over were up next, Class 128A, with 15 of 23 working for Celebration honors as Judge Mike Sims served as call judge in the event.  Multi-titled World Champion and World Grand Champion Lit Up's Double Time stepped up to the blue in a new division with trainer Howard Hamilton in the irons for Randall & Gloria Dixon of Dacula, Ga. The Classic Horse, Gold Coin Cash and Craig Baggerly rode to the red streamer for Joel Davis of Graham, N.C.  Jeff Givens and Bold Scream were third for James Stembridge & Gary Venoit of Modesto, Calif. & Woodbury, Tenn.
   Prior to the gate call for Class 128B, the Wednesday night crowd got to take a look at the 2005 Equitation World Grand Champion, Rachel Burch of College Grove, Tenn.  Crowned on Monday morning, the duo waited until tonight's performance to make her traditional pass around the big oval due to the severe weather conditions on Monday and Tuesday night.  She captured her championship title aboard Dangerously Unique, owned by Joe Clift & Saundra Pippin of Savannah, Tenn. and worked under the direction of instructor Sara Womack of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
   As Rachel headed back up the hill, it was time for 128B, Park Performance Walking Horses, Five Years and Over.  Nine of the 20 expected made the call to work for Judge Sam Sorrell and the panel.  Picking up his second win of the week, The Concealed Weapon and trainer Joe Cotten topped the division for The Robert Pollack Family of Saratoga, Calif.  The Concealed Weapon impressed the panel in the amateur division earlier in the week with Patti Pollack.  She's A Kennedy and Bart Gilmer were second in the event for Sue & Tom Stillwell of Independence, Iowa.  
Dangerous Catch and Mike McCormick were third for Greg Wilson of McMinnville, Tenn.
   The Amateur Owned & Trained division was up next with six of the 17 with reservations making the gate to work as Judge Rollie Beard called the gaits in the division.  Shooting for the stars in the event was Newton Parks and Beam's Startrek showing for The Newton Parks Family of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Generator's Big Ticket and Kenny Compton were reserve for Kenny Compton of North Tazewell, Va.  J.T. Olds and The Midnight Touch were third for the Olds Farm of Sparta, Tenn.
   Another very special division was up next, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Classic Horses 15 Years and Over.  Every horse in the division was over 15 years old and boy, were they still looking good.  Seven of the 17 with reservations hit the big oval as Judge Stephen Brown worked the division.  It says a great deal when the top three entries in the division are all past World and World Grand Champions.  Keeping an eye out for the blue, Network, a past 15.2 and Under World Champion, topped the event for the second consecutive year with owner/exhibitor Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Final's Eb Tide, a past open and amateur 15.2 and Under World Grand Champion, pulled in for the red ribbon with Sherri Pollack for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of San Martin, Calif.  1995 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion Pride's Sundance Star and Carolyn Rutner were third for Sundance Partners of Northport, Ala.
   Staying in the Amateur division, Class 131 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Five Years Old and Over, Over 15.2.  Judge Mack Motes served as call judge in the event where 11 of the 29 expected made their way down the hill.  Topping the division for the third consecutive year, reigning Amateur World Grand Champion Generator's Champion and Caresse Mills made the performance worthy of a true champion to ride away for the honors for Hy Steppin' Farm of Germantown, Tenn.  Mr. Pushbutton and Candy Butler received a hearty cheer from the crowd as they rode for the red streamer for Glen & Virgie Crutchfield of Memphis, Tenn.  Brandi Todd and Dirty Little Games proved they weren't just playing as they took third for Brandi Todd of Richmond, Ky.
   The mamas and the babies of the horse show world were up next for class 132, Mare & Foal.  Eight of the 10 scheduled were all decked out to show off for Judge Mike Sims and his cohorts.  Walking away with the honors were Gen's If Looks Could Kill and The Syndicate with Robert and Bob Nelms handling for Steve Heitmiller & Carol Hargott of Laguna Beach, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Stashed Cash and Supersize Me picked up the red streamer with Harold Dean Givens and Karen McGee handling for James and Nancy Washburn of Fayetteville, Tenn.  Gen's Love Affair and Love Patrol were third with Bobby Richards and Susan Shemwell at the lead for Rhonda Martocci of Franklin, Tenn.
   Another of the evening's highlight classes, Trainers 60 Years and Over on Walking Horses was up next with 12 of the 27 marking their place on the track to work for the divisional blue.   Topping the event for the legendary trainers was a true legend, Ramsey Bullington, rider of the 1985 World Grand Champion Pride's Final Edition and 1986 World Grand Champion Pride's Jubilee Star, and Spirit's Midnight Rider owned by The Annie Williamson Family of Hopkinsville, Ky.  Buddy Dick and The Sure Thing were on the money for reserve for owner Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Ozone's Delight and longtime North Carolina trainer David Polk were third for Lavon Lyson and Dee Dee Polk of Wadesboro & Midland, N.C.
   Bringing the evening to a close was class 134, Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Two-Years-Old.  Six of the 17 expected made the ring to work as Judge Rollie Beard called the gaits in the division.  Claiming his second World Championship title, Santana's Silver Streak and Steve Beam rode to to the winner's circle for Bo Beam and Bob Garber of Union Grove, Ala.  Bo Beam topped the Amateur division with this talented individual earlier in the week.  In Vogue and Jay Laughlin claimed the red streamer for 4-J Land & Cattle Company and Dr. Roger Richards of Waynesville, Mo. and Hendersonville, Tenn.  Owner/exhibitor Becky Barnes of Wartrace, Tenn. and A Gold Eagle claimed third.
   Well, the preliminary competition of the 67th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is all complete.  The Thursday night schedule features the crowning of 10 World Grand Champions leading up to the final class, the Three-Year Old World Grand Championship with nine more being crowned on Friday night.
   The action will be hot and the weather's supposed to be perfect, so make plans to be back in Shelbyville to be apart of this very special "celebration".