by Stephanie Rose and Linda Scrivner


PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - The Gulf Coast Charity Celebration Horse Show and Music Festival celebrated their 10th annual show and what a show it was! This event always held the last full weekend in April has flourished and has benefited numerous charities, changing lives and comforting those in need for the past nine years. This year’s show was expanded to four days and nights, April 23-26, at Frank Brown Park near some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. It once again supported the Anchorage Children’s Home and other local charities.

Many came to see the great horses, as well as enjoyed the seafood and the musical entertainment, which was provided before and after each session. More than $50,000 was awarded in prizes to those who competed. Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Steve Dunn of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Steve Hankins of Tazewell, Va., judged this year’s event, which included 66 classes. The show had excellent quality, many world champions and world grand champions, with 520 entries showing compared to 413 in 2007, 381 in 2006, 389 in 2005 and 410 in 2004.

Todd Fisher, executive officer of the Gulf Coast Charity Show, made the following statement, “Our heartfelt thanks to everyone for making our 10th anniversary a huge success! Great horses, good friends and wonderful weather: who could ask for more?”

Gail Walling and her family enjoyed the sun, the fishing and three blues at the Gulf Coast Charity their first time there. ‘It was our first trip to the Gulf Coast Charity Show and we loved it!” said Walling. “Great weather, great hospitality and great horses! Congratulations to everyone involved in putting on this first class show.”

Jimmy McConnell of Formac Stables led the blue ribbon tally with six blues while Allan Callaway Stables, Finish Line Farm, David Landrum Stables and Nelms Training Facility each returned home with four Gulf Coast blues. Three blues were earned by Steve Beam Stables, Carl Edwards and Sons Stables, Ginger Simpson, Tim Smith Stables and Tim Thompson Stables. Dual blues went to Knox Blackburn Stables, Jeff Givens Stables, Charlie Green Stables and Mickey McCormick Stables.

Not only did great horses show, many were also purchased during this show, proving that show horses are still in high demand. During the show, The Who was purchased by Jimmy McConnell for Molly Walters to show in amateur classes. Following the Two-Year-Old Mare victory of Sky’s Dressed In Diamonds with Todd Smith aboard, this talented gray mare was selected by Lindsay Hess and Zenda Hill Farm. Hess showed her new mare and was awarded reserve at the Gulf Coast. Another great world champion mare, previously owned by the Anthony Joseph family, was finalized and Ritzey Zone is now under the ownership of Ellie Gant of EL Enterprises. Sarah Moersch purchased Like A Rolling Stone from Rising Star Ranch while at the show.

The crowd eagerly waited all week for the main event, the Gulf Coast Horse Show Grand Championship on Saturday night. The crowd stood up when the contenders entered to organist Larry Bright’s Flat Walk Boogie and many remained standing through the second running walk. Following the outstanding stake class, Jimmy McConnell proudly directed The Who to the tricolor and floral horseshoe. This was The Who’s first venture into the aged competition. Two-time World Grand Champion The Golden Sovereign and Joe Cotten received reserve honors in the class in their first performance together, while third was awarded to Another RPM and Rob Brainard.

McConnell won five of the 10 stake classes at the Gulf Coast Show.

Special shirts printed with the last 10 stake champions were on sale to commemorate the show’s 10th year.

The highly competitive Riders’ Cup classes proved that trainers had brought their best stock to Panama City Beach. The amateur classes were equally loaded with 11 in the Amateur Specialty Championship, 19 in the Pro-Am class and 13 in the highly competitive Amateur Specialty Stallions class on Thursday evening, nine of which were world champions.

Complete results and judges’ cards follow and can be viewed by clicking here.