by Mark Davis


            All horse show fans knew that Thursday evening’s championship action promised to be outstanding, but the actual competition was probably even better than that highlighted by the debut of the Trainers “Ride For The Roses” Championship, won by Charlie Green and King Of The Jungle and the Three-Year-Old Championship, won by Copperfield and Knox Blackburn.

            The Friday night action promises to be just as exciting with 12 classes of competition highlighted by Owner-Amateur Riders Championship, the Youth Riders 12-17 Championship, the 15.2 & Under Championship and the Junior World Grand Championship.

            As the time drew closer to 7 p.m., one could tell that horse show time was drawing near as the show officials started to gather in center ring and horse show fans from all over the country started to file to their seats, while stopping to see a few old friends along the way.

            The judges for the 72nd Annual Celebration include Spencer Benedict of Glasgow, Ky., Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., and Tommy Loid of Bowling Green, Ky.

            The invocation for the evening was given by Bro. Ron DeWitt, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Leah Boyd of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

            Up first on the evening’s schedule was class 158, Owner-Amateur Lady Drivers, Fine Harness with seven of the 11 with reservations driving their clean and classy buggies down the hill to work for the Friday night crowd, that was growing by the minute as the crowd continued to make their way to their seats. Judge Nathan Clark served as Call Judge for the class. Making that memorable victory drive was I’m Medusa and Lynn Womack at the lines for the Womack family of Murfreesboro, Tenn. This duo drove to the winner’s circle earlier in 2010 at the Spring Fun Show and the Columbia Spring Jubilee. Willie Mays and owner/exhibitor Kathy Owen of Murfreesboro, Tenn., was reserve. Tamara Gavin-Kasser and Pushover In Dixie were third for Charles E. Gavin of Wartrace, Tenn.

            Getting Championship competition underway was class 159, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 on Walking Ponies World Grand Championship. Ten of the 11 expected made their way to the track for their chance to walk in the spotlight as Judge Tommy Loid called the gaits. Completing their “White Glove Tour” with a stellar performance and a unanimous decision of the panel was Prime Poison and Lilly Waites up for Andrew Waites family of Hattiesburg, Miss. Ritz Tornado and Meghan Davis pulled into the second position for Shamrock Farm of Cincinnati, Ohio. Roll The Gold and Allison Thorson were third for Thor Sport Farm of Sandusky, Ohio.

            Class 160 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horse World Grand Championship. Fourteen of 16 on the official Lions Club program made the gate call to work for Judge Spencer Benedict and his panel. Heading to the winner’s circle was Lined Up At The Ritz and owner/exhibitor Sandra Johnson taking all the honors back to Atlanta, Ga. 2x The Magic and Marty Irby were reserve riding for Marty Irby and Cindy Day of Clarksville, Tenn. Tijuana Tex and Darden Gladney rounded out the top three for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.

            After a look at the big red Ford truck, it was time to call class 161 to the ring, the Susan Gordon Memorial Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits for the eight entries that made the call to work for their moment in the spotlight tonight. Making that spotlight ride all the way around the historic big oval tonight was I’m Wall Street and Clay Mills riding for Corbin Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C. Absolute Proof and Meg Callaway pulled into the second position riding for Ricky Young of Boaz, Ala. Command Again and MaryBeth Blessing were third in the event riding for What A Blessing Farm of Bristol, Tenn.

            Class 162 brought the Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary Members on Walking Horses to the big oval. Eight of the 24 with reservations worked to the rail to show off their very best for veteran Judge Mike Carpenter and his cohorts. Riding away with the blue was They Call Me Samson and Dru McCormick riding for Bill Bean of Tomball, Texas. Watch Delight and owner/exhibitor Maria Derickson of Wartrace, Tenn., were reserve. Star In The Making and Stacy Blackburn were third for the Jimmy Reese family of Pikeville, Tenn.

            It was time to get in the Western way for class 163, the Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship. All 14 of the teams with reservations made their way down the hill to work for their moment in the spotlight as Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits. Walking away with the roses in the division and showing their very best was the polished team of Three–Time 2010 World Champion Red Sunday’s Best and Liz Gassaway showing for Laurie Toone and Liz Gassaway of Bell Buckle and Shelbyville, Tenn. The walking grey, Cha Cha Cha SF and Miles Irby were reserve riding for Howell and Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Headed back Kentucky way, Santa Emelia and owner/exhibitor Jared Carrier of Franklin, Ky., rounded out the top three in the class.

            Class 164, the Park Performance Walking Horse World Grand Championship was up next with seven of the 11 expected making the call to work for Judge Tommy Loid and his panel. Riding to the roses for the second consecutive year was High Fashion Statement and Patrick Thomas riding for Jamie Gardner of Bridgewater, Va. With this win, the team retired the Ron Green Memorial Challenge Trophy. The Concealed Weapon and Patti Pollack pulled in for the red streamers riding for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. Avenger’s Lady Threat and Link Webb were third riding for John Cabe of Cornersville, Tenn.

            Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Walking Horse World Grand Championship, class 165 on the schedule, was up next with 13 of the 16 with reservations making their way down the hill to the historic big oval to work for that first ever, coveted spotlight ride and set of roses. Judge Spencer Benedict led the panel in the class. Making that once in lifetime ride tonight was Tamara Gavin-Kasser and Pride Of Willie riding away with that first set of roses for Carol Ann Gavin of Wartrace, Tenn. Remaining a novice for another day was Smoke N Cash MM and Charlie Stivers riding for Glendon Stivers of Manchester, Ky. Dollar’s Big And Rich and Wes Hendrick collected the golden streamers for Kenny Hendrick of Bowling Green, Ky.


            Class 166 brought the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship down from their warm up area at Calsonic Arena with 18 of the 22 on the official Lions Club program taking the rail to work in Championship form as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits. When the work was complete, the spotlight scanned the lineup looking for a champion and eventually the spotlight stopped on the team of Taylor Walters and Busting Special riding for the Molly Walters family of Rancho Mirage, Calif. She’s Push In Command and Lindsay Hess rode into the second spot for Connie Hess of Harrisonburg, Va. Owner/exhibitor Lindsey Landrum and Ritzey Zone carried home the third award to Franklin, Tenn.

            The professional trainers headed to the track for class 167, 15.2 & Under Walking Horse World Grand Championship (Riders’ Cup) (Canter) with five of the eight expected working to the track to show off all three gaits for which our great breed is famous. Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge. Riding in the spotlight was the 15.2 & Under Stallion Preliminary winner, Ozone’s Cut Above All and John Allan Callaway riding with the roses for Don Pratt of Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Private Charter and Knox Blackburn were the popular reserve riding for Eva Eddleman of Chattanooga, Tenn. Jimmy McConnell and Bee Bee King were third riding for Rachel Castaldi of Skillman, N.J.

            Back in the amateur division, class 168 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship to center ring with 13 of the 18 programmed entries beating the time clock to work for their chance at a moment in the spotlight. Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits in the class. Riding to the winner’s circle in the division was the team of Bad Economy and Ben Kail riding for Vinson and Kail of Columbus, Miss. and Alamo, Tenn. I’m Pushin’ N Line and Janice Fostek were reserve riding for Joe and Janice Fostek of Roanoke, Va. I’m Deuce and owner/rider Dru McCormick of Shelbyville, Tenn rounded out the top three.

            Just before the final class of the evening took the ring, it was time for a quick ninth inning stretch as the big orange Kubota Tractor came down the hill for a drag of the track to have everything just right for the final class, the Junior World Grand Championship.

            With the drag finally complete, it was time to call class 169, the Four-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship (Canter) (Riders’ Cup) to the big oval. Seven of the 11 expected worked to the track to show off for the large Friday night crowd. Judge Tommy Loid served as Call Judge for the final class of the night. When the work was complete it was the team of Dark And Shady and Jimmy McConnell riding to the winner’s circle and collecting all the honors bestowed upon a champion for the Molly Walters family of Rancho Mirage, Calif. This made the Walters Family’s second set of roses on the night after Taylor Walters topped the Youth 12-17 Championship earlier in the night with Busting Special. Another Nine Yards and Ronal Young were the popular reserve riding for Darby Oaks Stables of Bushnell, Fla. Jazz Prince and Knox Blackburn claimed third riding for Betty Corlew of Adams, Tenn.

            Another outstanding night of competition it has been! With the Friday Championship night complete at 11:10 p.m., can you believe that only one night remains of the 72nd Annual Celebration? But, what an important night it is. It will be the time to crown the Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion and 12 other World Grand Champions leading up to the really big one, the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship. Just who will we see back tomorrow night? Rowdy Rev, The Golden Sovereign, The Coach? Will we have a surprise entry from another division? Will a former World Grand Champion return to compete for the title? Many questions remain, and they will only be answered tomorrow night, so make sure you’re back in Shelbyville to see history being made on the final night of the 2010 Celebration.