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Championship Competition Brings Record Setting Crowds



By Melissa R. Stevens

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - It was another record setting night at the Celebration. An enormous crowd of 22,874 packed Celebration Arena Friday night. This was the largest crowd for this night in the history of the show. The paid attendance was 26,071. The paid attendance and actual attendance get closer as Saturday night approaches.

The first class of the evening, the Park Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship for amateur riders, brought 25 entries to the ring. Paul Watlington was selected as the call judge. Thirteen entries were asked to remain for an additional workout. Captive Heart and Bridget Rush made the first spotlight ride of the evening as they were named the 2003 Park Pleasure Walking Horse and Amateur Rider World Grand Champions for Del and Bridget Rush of Oxford, Miss. This talented entry has had a successful 2003 season winning blues at the Trainers Show, Gallatin, the Money Tree Classic and Tony Rice. Dragonfire and Dawn Brasfield were named the reserve world grand champions for Noel and Roberta Williams of Tucson, Ariz. Dragonfire has won blues at the Carousel Horse Show, Desert Classic, West Coast Trainers Show and the California Celebration. The third place tie was give to She's Breathtaking ridden by Bob Lawrence for Lawrence & Hutto of Thomasville, Ga. This talented entry has also had a good year with wins at the Gulf Coast Charity and Bethesda.

Eight entries made the gate call for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Laura Brandon was the call judge. A Specialist, with Susan Gordan up for Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif., was called as the 2003 World Grand Champions in this division. This horse has made a name for itself on the western circuit with wins at the Desert Classic and the California Celebration. Cut Above All and Deborah Perry were awarded the reserve honors for David Perry of Gaffney, S.C. Cut Above All has had a successful year winning blues at the South Carolina Ladies Auxiliary, East Tennessee Classic and Asheville, N.C. Prism Sky and Ellen Sale took the third place ribbon for Jack Littrell and McJunkin Farm of Richardson, Texas. Prism Sky has not been left behind. This talented entry has taken the blue home from the Money Tree Classic this year.

The Lite-Shod Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship featured nine entries. Mike Carpenter was the call judge. The first unanimous decision of the evening came in this class when Pusher's Beaming Pride and Howard Hamilton were called from the line up to make the spotlight ride and accept the tricolor ribbon and floral horse shoe. This is this team's second win in this class in three years. Debbie and Jim Nichols of New Market, Tenn., are the proud owners of this championship horse. Drop The Hammer and Connie Waldo were the reserve world grand champions for R.D. and Connie Waldo of Shelbyville, Tenn. The third place award was given to A Beam Come True and Diane Gueck for owner Sanni Mathews of Hidden Hills, Calif.

Next on the agenda was the Walking Horse Trainers' Auxiliary Members on Walking Horses class. This class was not a preliminary for any of the championship classes. Nineteen entries took to the ring for competition. Gene Carswell was the call judge. Pusher's High Voltage and Dru McCormick were called from the line up to receive the blue ribbon for Beckie Hills of Christiana, Tenn. Gen's Major Motion was ridden to the reserve by Beth Sims for the Mike Chiappari family of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Motown Delight and Sue Brassy took the third place ribbon for Eva McClure and Courtesy Stables of Somis, Calif.

A large class of 25 entries made their way to the ring to compete for the 2003 Owner-Amateur Riders on Novice Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Jamie Hankins was the call judge. Sixteen entries were asked to remain for an additional work out in this championship class. The Phantom Menace and Thom Meek were called from the line up to receive the championship honors for Deerwood Manor, LLC of Brentwood, Tenn. An American Outlaw and Blake Cammack were the reserve choice for Maxwell & Derickson of Longview, Texas, and Wartrace, Tenn. Sleeper's Tycoon and Michael Patterson received the third place award for the Michael Patterson family of Rockvale, Tenn.

The Owner-Amateur Lady Drivers Fine Harness class was split into two sections. This was not a preliminary to any of the championship competitions. Section A of the class brought 11 entries to the ring. Paul Watlington was the call judge. Winning the class by unanimous vote was On The Money and Kathy Owen for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn. This team also won this class in 2001 and retires the Ruby Ewing Challenge Trophy. Reserve in the class was Dreams Of Cash and Rina Daniel for Joe and Rina Daniel of Nixa, Mo., followed by Chinatown and owner/exhibitor Amber Earl of Franklin, Tenn.

Ten entries made the gate call for Section B of the class. Laura Brandon was the call judge. Another unanimous vote was made in this section. Master's Gunsmoke and Susan Coleman were the unanimous winners of this section for Broderick & Coleman of Bowling Green, Ky., and Unionville, Tenn. The reserve honors went to Dangerous Medusa and Lynn Womack for Womack Stables of Murfreesboro, Tenn., followed by A Major Masterpiece and Robbie Warley for Black Gold Farm of Normandy, Tenn.

A large group of 23 entries made their way to the ring to compete for the 2003 Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Mares and Geldings World Grand Championship for riders 12-17. Mike Carpenter was selected as the call judge. A time out was called while a lost action device was located. Then, a workout was called for 13 entries with all others being excused. Pusher's Special Design and Kathryn Ramsbottom were called from the line up to make the spotlight ride as this year's Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Mares and Geldings, riders 12-17, World Grand Champions. Bob and Linda Ramsbottom of Norris, Tenn., is the proud owner of this talented entry. Pushin The Limits and owner/exhibitor Madison Holloway of Davidson, N.C., were reserve followed by Heart Attack's Fast Beat and Beth Carol Thomas for the Butch Thomas family of Bowling Green, Ky.

A small group of eight entries made the gate call for the Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship competition. Gene Carswell was the call judge. Double Your Money and Leigh Bennett were named this year's world grand champions for the division for Dwight and Elizabeth Ottman of Owensboro, Ky. The reserve honors were awarded to Strike It Rich and Howard Hamilton for Randall and Gloria Dixon and Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga., followed by WHAM! and Mike Anasis for owner Kevin Smith of Yorktown, Ind.

Twenty-three entries made their way to the ring to compete for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Jamie Hankins was the call judge. Thirteen entries were asked to remain for further rail work to help the judges make their final decision. Witch's Jazz and Ed Breedlove were named this year's Owner-Amateur Rider on a Two-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Champions for Melissa Breedlove of Buford, Ga. The reserve world grand champion for this division was FDR and Marty Irby for Irby Stables of Mobile, Ala., and Shelbyville, Tenn. The third place award was given to The Sky Command with Julie Grider in the irons for the Tommy Grider family of Columbia, Ky.

The crowd grew more and more vocal as the last class of the evening, the Four-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship, drew closer. Shouts and cheers were heard from all corners of the arena as the entries made their way through the gate for competition. Fourteen entries chose to show back in the championship and Paul Watlington was the call judge. Main Power threw a shoe just before the line up was called causing the tying of the class to be delayed until the shoe was repaired. Following the delay, Joe Cotten rode the black stallion under the Celebration spotlight to collect the tricolor ribbon and beautiful floral horse shoe for owners Holland, King & Kilgore of Decatur, Ala., Arab, Ala., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. This team has garnered win this year from Jackson, Miss., Gallatin, the Spring Fun Show and Woodbury. Gold Picture and Bill Bobo were the reserve world grand champions for Drs. Cliff and Linda Garrard of Humboldt, Tenn., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Gold Picture has won the blue this year at Walking To Make A Difference and Wartrace. The third place tie went to Outlaw Josey Wales and Billy Gray for Larry and Carol McLaughlin of Florence, S.C.

Tomorrow marks the last night of the 65th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. The exhibitors and spectators alike are primed for top competition as the 2003 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion is called from the line up to make the traditional spotlight ride. With record attendance once again tonight, my advice would be to arrive early; it's going to be crowded!

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