By Mark Davis


            The time walking horse fans throughout the nation wait for all year, Championship nights at The Celebration.  With the exception of the Yearling World Grand Championship and the Equitation World Grand Championship which were held earlier in the week, The Championship competition gets under way tonight as 10 World Grand Champions will be crowned before the evening is compete.  This evening is also the time when Celebration fans take a moment out for The Celebration Moment, the time when those friends and fans who have passed away in the last year are honored.

            Promptly at 7 pm, as always, official flag horse Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton made their way to the track to get the evening underway.

            The invocation for the evening was given by the Rev. Mark Ashley of New Hope Chapel, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Steven Smith of Murfreesboro, Tenn. 

            Up first on the evening’s schedule was class 132, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Walking Ponies, World Grand Championship.  Nineteen of the 20 with reservations made their way down the hill to work for their chance to make that memorable spotlight ride.  Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits in the section.  Well, it wasn’t raining in Shelbyville tonight, but London Rain and Megan Mozeley, World Champions in the Youth 15 –17 preliminary, made a simply outstanding performance to gain the approval of the judges and the crowd to capture the roses for Phyllis Mozeley of Charlotte, N.C.  Rudy Rudiger and Alexandria Holland, 2006 World Grand Champions in the event, were reserve for The Neal Holland Family of Decatur, Ala.  Electrifying and Samantha Gaddy, who made their preliminary Youth 6-14 victory ride at the beginning of Friday Night’s unnamed hurricane, were third for Rina Gaddy of Kernersville, N.C.

            The pleasure horses took the track for class 133, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship (Canter),  All ten of the expected entries came to work for their chance at a set of roses under the watchful eye of Call Judge Mike Carpenter and staff.  Riding away with the tri-colors were a team that had been there before, many time WC & WGC Double Java and trainer Scott Benham, riding proudly for Mike & Kathy Chiappari of Santa Rosa, Calif.  Five-Time 2007 World Champion Drop The Hammer and Connie Waldo pulled in with a big smile to receive the second award for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Nita’s Double Pride and Patrick Thomas exited the ring with the golden streamers for Jeannae Patterson and Ginger Simpson of Gulf Hammick, Fla. & Winchester, Tenn.

            Eight of the nine teams on the entry sheets beat the clock to take the rail to work in class 134, 15.2 and Under Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  Judge Allen Forman served as Call Judge in the section.  Flying away with all the honors were Dragonfly and Jimmy McConnell, reserve World Champions in Monday’s preliminary action, riding for Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J.  Jose’s Emblem and Herbert Derickson were close behind garnering the red ribbon for Pleasant Hill Farm of Columbia, Tenn.  Skywatch’s Masterpiece and John Allan Callaway were third for Bill Hill of Knoxville, Tenn.

            The amateur riders up next working hard for their first chance at a set of roses for the evening in class 135, Elite Owner Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship.  Just in case you didn’t know, Elite is The Celebration’s division for riders age 50 and over.  Eight of the 11 on the books made their way to the big oval working hard for their chance to ride in the spotlight as Judge Justin Jenne’ led the panel.  Dominating the division for the fourth consecutive year, John FK’s Pusher and Robin MacDonald were on top of their game and knocked it out of the park for Bruce & Robin MacDonald of Atlanta, Ga.  With the win, the duo retired The Susan Gordon Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Gladys Owen Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Kid Callahan and Ed Breedlove rode to the reserve honors for Keith Breedlove of Buford, Ga.  Black Cash Delight and Gail Walling accepted the yellow streamers for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            Everyone in the stands got all excited as class 136, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship hit the track with 19 of the 20 expected worked for their very special moment in Shelbyville as Judge Sam Sorrell and his staff watched very closely over the outstanding group of competitors.  Taking the roses back Carolina way, the second of the night, the big walking team of JFK Again and Jordan Dean were flawless in their championship ride for proud grandmother, Mona Dean of Wendell, N.C.  Generated By Jose and Trey Blackburn, Youth 11 and Under Gelding, Div B World Champions, walked into the second position for Dr. H.E. Barker of Arab, Ala.  Jose’s Vegenance and owner/exhibitor Rae Shumate-Tysor of Cumming, Ga.

            Adding a little variety to the evening’s schedule, class 137 featured the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship with all 23 entries featured in the official Lions Club supplement coming down from Calsonic Arena to show off in front of the extra large Thursday evening crowd.  Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits in the section.  As organist Larry Bright played “California, Here I Come,” it was the team of Push N For Pleasure and Patti Pollack making the ride in the spotlight and taking the roses home to the Golden State for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Headed down south to the Sunshine State, The Lady Of The Ritz and Janet Howell were reserve for Montverde Academy and Kasey Kesserling of Montverde, Fla.  Homefolks Playin’ Hooky & owner/exhibitor Liz Gassaway of Shelbyville, Tenn. topped off a great Celebration picking up the third award.
            Class 138 brought the Owner Amateur Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the big oval with 19 of the 21 with reservations making the call to work for their very own set of roses under the watch of Judge Mike Carpenter and his cohorts.  Making the flawless performance to ride away with all the honors, Coin’s Black Stroke and Jean O’brien were crowned World Grand Champions in the division for Reggie Pimentel of Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Reigning WGC Ironworks Tin Man and Steve Jones were reserve champions for Ray Jones Trucking, Inc., of Greenville, Ky.  She’s One Hot Tamale and Amy Nesius were third for McNeill & Nesius of Andalusia, Ala. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Back in the pleasure division, class 139 featured all six of the programmed entries in the Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship (Canter).  Judge Allen Forman called the gaits in the event as organist Larry Bright pulled out all of his best western tunes to get the crowd in the cowboy frame of mind.  Walking away with the roses, after riding to second in the English Division earlier in the evening, were Drop The Hammer and Connie Waldo riding for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Steel Watch and Sandra Johnson were in the second position for Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga.  Jose’ Quervo Gold and Miles Irby picked up the golden streamers for Davis & Williamson of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

            The performance horses were back in the big oval for class 140, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, 15.2 and Under, World Grand Championship with four of the seven with reservations coming to work for Judge Justin Jenne’ and his cohorts.  Making the stellar performance in the division were the World Champion Amateur Riders on 15.2 and Under Stallion team of The Phantom Menace and Thom Meek riding away with the honors for Deerwood Manor of Brentwood, Tenn.  Rocky Mountain Sky and Lucky Collins were reserve in the event for Don & Lucky Collins of Ft. Myers, Fla. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Sweeping In Style and owner/exhibitor Rodney Koger  of Athens, Tenn.

were third.

            Wrapping up the Thursday evening performance was class 141, Three-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  Thirteen of the 19 expected worked their way to the big oval to give the extra large crowd of 18,062 something to get excited about one more time.  After the panel pulled in six entries for additional work it was time to see who would be crowned the Three-Year-Old World Grand Champions.  That would be none other that Dimaggio and Billy Young, World Champion Three-Year-Old, Div. B earlier in the week for Holland & Kilgore of Decatur & Tuscaloosa, Ala.  Billy & Dimaggio captured their title with a unanimous decision of the panel and a big cheer from the crowd.  The popular reserve went to Victoria’s Secret, World Champion Three-Year-Old Mare, and trainer Gary Edwards riding for Chester & Lynda Stokes of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.  Rounding out the top of the class was Ozone’s Cut Above All and John Allan Callaway riding for Mark & Sharon Thomas of Columbus, N.C.

            Ah, championship nights at The Celebration are always exciting and tonight’s performance certainly did not disapoint.  Make plans now to be back in Shelbyville tomorrow evening as the hot competition will continue with 14 top classes and 11 Championship divisions, leading up to the Junior World Grand Championship, that will be sure to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout the evening.  One thing’s for sure, history will be made and you won’t want to miss a moment!