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Folsom Prison Blues and Game World Top Aged Stallions

By Mark Davis

It’s Saturday Night and everyone’s looking and feeling all right! There’s a cool breeze blowing through the historic Celebration Arena and temperatures are supposed to be in the low to mid 60’s by the time the Aged Stallions hit the track later tonight. What a great night for a horse show and what a great horse show we’re going to have tonight!

The evening’s schedule features 14 classes of competition highlighted by the Three-Year-Old Walking Mares, the Two-Year-Old Walking Mares, the Yearling World Grand Championship and, of course, the Aged Stallions, Over 15.2, when we’ll get our first look at who just might be our next Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion.

The judges for the 73rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn., and Jeff Willis of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The invocation for the evening was given by Bro. Bobby McGee, pastor of the Edgemont Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Haley Sorrells of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The first class on the evening’s schedule was class 71, Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Geldings with 21 of the 39 with reservations making the gate call to work in the division overseen by Judge Jennifer Bingham and her experienced panel. Taking the win back to the land of the Bluegrass (and the Blue Mist!), was a team familiar to the winner’s circle, Pushin’ That Jazz and Dalia Smith riding for Molly & Annabelle Smith of Manchester, Ky. This team captured top honors in this division in 2008 & 2009 and captured a 2010 Celebration win in another division and had 2011 wins at the Gallatin Lions Club Horse Show, the Spring Fun Show & Cornersville, Tenn. Jazz Country and Patti Pollack were reserve for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. Major Frivolous and Stephanie Cagle were third for Sammy & Gail Cagle of Lexington, Tenn.

The professional trainers made their first appearance in the big oval for the evening in class 72A, Three-Year-Old Walking Mares (Riders’ Cup). Fifteen of the 20 expected made the gate call to work for Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his panel. Making the victory ride in the division was Larry Edwards and Dollar’s Misty Maid riding for Dr. Barbara Moersch of Jacksonville, Ala. Powerstroke’s Evening Star and Herbert Derickson pulled in for the red streamers for Ingraham & McGee of Lenoir, N.C. & Shelbyville, Tenn. She’s A Shady Sister & Jimmy McConnell was third for Mike & Lee McGartland of Ft. Worth, Texas.

Class 72B brought a dozen more teams down the hill to show in the Three-Year-Old Walking Mares. Judge Jamie Hankins served as Call Judge for this section. Topping this section and proving their status were She Has Status and John Allan Callaway riding for Joyce Meadows of Ashland City, Tenn. This duo had picked up 2011 wins at the Bedford County 4-H Horse Show and the Tony Rice Horse Show. This win, coupled with a winner owned by Meadows in 2005, retired the Cliff Gillespie Memorial Challenge Trophy, the Dr. Dewitt Owen Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Jack Warren Memorial Challenge Trophy. The Sky Queen and Casey Wright were reserve for Jamie Gullic of Harrisburg, Ill. Philip Trimble and Mariposa rounded out the top three for Joe Alvarez of Olympic, Wash.

Staying in the professional division, class 73 featured the Young Trainers, 35 and Under, on Walking Horses, 15.2 and Under (Riders’ Cup). Eight of the 17 on the official Lions Club program made the gate call to work in the division. Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge for the class. Taking command of the division was Major Sky Command and Brent Grider in the irons for the Tommy Grider family of Columbia, Ky. More Of The Major and John Allan Callaway were reserve for Judy Leek of Cedar Creek, Texas. I’m Splashed and Tim Smith collected the third award for Hillview Promotions & Lindsey Landrum of Franklin, Tenn.

It was time to get in the western way for class 74, Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Five Years and Over. Four of the nine with reservations made their way to the rail to work for the Saturday night crowd as Judge Jeff Willis called the gaits in the class. With a big cheer from the crowd, it was Armed & Trigger Happy and Jim Nichols making their way to the winner’s circle for Jim & Debbie Nichols of New Market, Tenn. This duo’s 2011 resume included wins at the National Trainers’ Show & the Tony Rice Horse Show. Headed back California way with reserve honors was Dragonfire and owner/exhibitor Jim Heiting of Riverside, Calif. Another California exhibitor, Patti Pollack, was third with Sky Full Of Gold, owned by Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif., & Shelbyville, Tenn.

The young riders were up for class 75A, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings. Twelve of the 18 expected took the rail hoping to make their Celebration dreams come true tonight and ride away with that very first Celebration blue. Judge Jennifer Bingham led the judging panel in the section. Riding out of the Novice division tonight were Papa’s Dark Shadow and Brant Collier riding for James D. Watson of Lawrenceburg, Tenn. Strong But Sassy and Bayleigh Nale were just that as they scored the second award for Nale & Marbry of Memphis, Tenn. Forbidden and Miller Carlton picked up the yellow streamers for Renee Carlton of Corinth, Miss.

Class 75B, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings featured 10 of the 15 on the books working down the hill for their chance to ride out of the Novice division tonight. Judge Jamie Bradshaw served as Call Judge for the split. A novice no more, Jose Caliente and Chris Elliott captured the coveted blue for Stephanie Elliott of Tuscumbia, Ala. This team had captured top honors in 2011 at the Cornersville Lions Club Horse Show and garnered reserve honors at the Belfast Lions Club Horse Show. Jose’s Jumpin’ The Border and Nicole Martin pulled into the reserve position for Nicole Martin & Larry McLaughlin of Leesville & Florence, S.C. Showboat Showgirl and Allie Holt rounded out the top of the class garnering the yellow streamers for Nancy Clements & Allie Holt of Beverly Hills, Fla.

Class 76A brought the Two-Year-Old Walking Mares (Riders’ Cup) down the hill with 19 of the 32 programmed entries working for Judge Jamie Hankins and his staff. It was a fine evening for Evening At The Palm and Bill Bobo as they rode to the top of this very talented class for Char Johnson of Murfreesboro, Tenn. This team preceded this win with good wins at the Liberty Lions Club Horse Show and the Moore County Horse Show. Strong Seduction and Knox Blackburn were close behind in reserve riding for James & Betty Corlew of Adams, Tenn. An American Maid and Chad Williams rounded out the top three in the class for Jim & Debbie Flack of Tallahassee, Fla.

Another great section of Two-Year-Old Walking Mares (Riders’ Cup), class 76B, was up next on the schedule with 15 of the 33 on the books making the call to work for Judge Ronnie Spears and his cohorts. Topping the division with an across the board decision from the judging panel was Busted At Pebble Beach and Justin Harris riding for Bruce & Robin MacDonald of Lake City, Ga. This duo’s 2011 resume included wins at the Spring Fun Show & the Tony Rice Horse Show and a good reserve at Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show of the South. Proud Texas Lady and Tim Gray pulled into the second position for Darlene Zamora of Shelbyville, Tenn. Herbert Derickson and Strokin At Sunrise were third for Mr. & Mrs. Richard Greer of Lenoir, N.C. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

Back in the amateur division, class 77 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies, Stallions. Eleven of the 22 expected were right on time to work for World Championship acclaim in the division as Judge Jeff Willis called the gaits in the class. Walking right down the line to the winner’s circle with a unanimous decision of the panel was The Dixie Lineman and Gail Walling riding for Judy McDonald & Gail Walling of Tullahoma & Wartrace, Tenn. Private Charter and Mike Walden were reserve for the Mike Walden family of Chattanooga, Tenn. Erica Jenne’ and London Rain were third for Steven Hartlein of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Class 78 brought the Walking Yearling World Grand Championship to the ring. Of course, this means that we get to see the spotlight turned on for the first time of 2011 and hand out the first set of roses for the 73rd Annual show. All 12 of the expected teams worked down from Calsonic Arena to compete for their chance to make that once in a lifetime walk in the spotlight. Judge Jennifer Bingham served as Call Judge for the class. Making that walk of a lifetime was The Supreme Titleist and Chris Richards, winners of the Yearling Colt preliminary earlier today, at the lead for 4-J Land & Cattle Co., Bobby Jones & Roger Richards of Waynesville, Mo., Manchester, Tenn., & Hendersonville, Tenn. Score’s Diamond Girl and Beverly Lamp, Yearling Filly World Champions, were reserve Grand Champions for Keith & Lorraine Rosbury of Aubrey, Texas. Walking Down The Line and Brian Wright, winners of the Owner-Amateur Yearlings preliminary, picked up the golden streamers for the George Wright family of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

Back under saddle, class 79 featured the Owner-Amateur Novice Gentleman Riders on Novice Walking Stallions with 12 of the 21 expected taking the track in hopes of riding out tonight with their first ever Celebration blue. Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits in the class. Making the spectacular performance to ride out of the Novice division tonight was Spectacular Dumas and Charles Craddock riding for Charles & Connie Craddock of Joelton, Tenn. Headed back Carolina way, Showboat By Skywatch and Gordon Ezzell took reserve honors home to Rocky Mount, N.C. Cy Young and owner/exhibitor Johnny Hester of Russellville, Ala., were third.

It was finally the time that everyone in the historic big oval had been waiting for all night. It was time to get a look at those Aged Stallions that will be contending for the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship one week from tonight.

Class 80A, Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders’ Cup) featured five of the 11 entries on the official Lions Club program making the call to work for Judge Jamie Hankins and his staff. Riding to the winner’s circle with the approval of the crowd were Folsom Prison Blues and Rodney Dick riding for the Jimmy Smith family of Oliver Springs, Tenn. This marked the team’s fifth win of the 2011 season with previous wins at the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, the Spring Fun Show & the Tony Rice Horse Show. Puttin’ Cash On The Line and Justin Harris, 2011 champions at the PC Splash Horse Show, were reserve in the section for Tommy Jowers family of Leesburg, Ga. Johnny Ritz and Joe Cotten, 2011 champions at the Gallatin Lions Club Horse Show & the Cornersville Lions Club Horse Show, were third for Hoyte Eakes of Nashville, Tenn.

Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders’ Cup), class 80B, brought four of the 11 with reservations down to the track to work for Judge Ronnie Spears and his cohorts. When the work was complete it was the team of Game World and Gary Edwards making the ride to the winner’s circle, with the approval of the crowd, for Chester & Lynda Stokes of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. This team garnered 2011 wins at Edison, Ga., the Columbia Spring Jubilee & the FAST Showcase. The Golden Sovereign and Tim Smith, 2011 winners at the Belfast Lions Club Horse Show, were in the reserve position for Evergreen Walking Horse Farm of Shelbyville, Tenn. My Kinda Luck and Bill Cantrell, 2011 winners at the East Hall Dugout Horse Show, were third for Dee Cantrell of Phenix City, Ala.

With that final victory pass from Game World and Gary Edwards, the first Saturday night session of the 73rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the history books. The question now remains, and will remain throughout the week, will the 2011 World Grand Champion come from one of these nine horses? Will there be a surprise entry that will qualify in another class? Could a past World Grand Champion enter the class? We will have to return here next Saturday night to find out for sure!

Sunday is always a full day on the grounds at The Celebration with the Worship Service starting at 7:40 am, the Celebration Dog Show at 1 pm and the Stable Decorating Contest taking place throughout the day, there is more than enough to keep everyone busy until the horse show starts again at 7 p.m. Of course, the Sunday evening session is always highlighted by the Aged Mares & the Junior Stallions and will be an excellent evening of horse show indeed!

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