By Sadie Fowler

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — The first Friday evening of the walking horse industry’s annual August tradition kicked off at 7 p.m. in Maverick Arena with 15 classes prepared to show in front of the honorable judging panel challenged with evaluating the 80th edition of the show. 

The first class had two splits as a result of it being fine harness. In division A, Wilsene Moody-Kwok retired a special trophy on the lines of Lined Royal Cash with My Diamonds And Pearls finishing reserve for Kathy Owen. Kudos For Cash and Toni White received the winning praise in the B division with I'm Sky King and Jane Stiles following in the ranks for reserve.

The future of the breed is bright as was evident in the class that followed, the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years On Walking Geldings with I’m Coach Cal and Ashbee Norman sliding into the top position while Be Cool and Harper Grider collected reserve.

The Two-Year-Old Walking Geldings had the crowd cheering for their favorites but no one could top Fabio and Blaise Broccard who bested the nice field of 12 entries for Tommy McGee with I’m Lined With Grey and Bill Callaway making a great show for reserve. 

The Owner-Amateur Riders 70 and Over class was packed with seasoned riders poised for the win. Five entries showed up for the class and in the end, it was lone lady rider Pam Russell and Jose' It Ain’t So to emerge victorious among the field of five entries.

“This is what 70 looks like, ladies and gentleman, and it looks pretty good!” said announcer Mark Farrar as he got the crowd fired up while Russell made her victory pass. In Ted’s Image and Ron Lawrence finished with a well-deserved reserve in the good class.

The Lite-Shod Walking Horse featured eight entries with La Patrona and Philip Trimble earning the winning votes for Dale Steinmetz while My Black Cadillac and Laurie Toone cruised in for the red streamers. 

Spectators put their full attention on the next highlight of the evening, the Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions class, which featured 15 in its A split. Playing Gin and Chris Helton had their game faces on for the impressive win among the quality-filled class with Omaha and Bill Callaway wide open for the reserve finish. 

The Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions B division was equally as exciting and no one could deny the major win Minor Ordeal sealed, in unanimous fashion, with Tyler Baucom up for Dean/Riddley. It’s Our Honor represented the legendary Honors line of breeding with none other than Gary Edwards in the saddle for Veazy/Been.

Always a crowd-pleasing class, the Owner-Amateur Classic Horses 15 and Over class had 11 entries on display with many in the crowd recognizing some of their favorite horses of the past. Texas Joe Black gave Kathy Zeis a ride in which she’ll never forget as they topped the competition with Rocky Mountain Sky and Chad Adams making a solid show for second. 

The Park Performance Four and Under kept the momentum rolling on the Friday evening agenda with nine entries. Georgia Florida Line, with Bruce MacDonald up, stood out among the classy group of showy horses for the win with Curly Lambeau and Jacob Baum garnering reserve for mom Lisa Baum.

The Novice Lady Riders on Walking Stallions A division was yet another class where the judges were in full agreement with one another. Carol Missildine has been playing her hand right over the course of the past two days and tonight was certainly no different as she piloted Deal Me Aces JC to the winner’s circle with Siege and Tina Graves stealing the reserve finish in the good class.

The B division of the same class landed I’m Sky Black and Allison Armstrong with a ticket out of the novice division and a pass into the winner’s circle. Nobu and Melissa Enix walked away as reserve champions. 
As the evening cruised to the finish line the Four-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings (Canter) got the crowd in perfect tune as Molly Lou Melon and Casey Wright made their moves count for the blue for Diana Cruse. Charlie On Fire and Sam Martin warmed up the house with their impressive performance for the reserve finish. 

In her second win of the night and fourth win so far this Celebration, Carol Missildine pulled off another astonishing ride in the Amateur English Park Pleasure class with her power-house partner Dirty Sexy Money. Skydoctor and Darrell Collins earned a respectable reserve finish.

The Amateur Ladies Walking Mares had two talented women wearing smiles as they walked out of the ring. Oh My Darlin and Karen Bean earned the winning nod and the crowd’s approval while She’s Limitless and Molly Walters gave them a run for their money for the strong reserve finish.

The Show Pleasure Mares and Geldings class served as the climax of the great slate of Friday night classes. Wrapping up what was indeed a memorable day for both the Smith and Pollack families, Title Sweepstake and Tim Smith came back from a Sherri Pollack’s fourth place finish with the same horse last night to capture a huge victory while I’m Moonlighting, followed up his reserve from last night by wearing the red streamers once again, this time with Michael Wright in the saddle.