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It’s Only A Game Wins First Playoff On Sunday Night

By Mark Davis


            Well, it was a busy Sunday afternoon in Shelbyville at the 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  Stable Decorating Contest, The Celebration Dog Show and, for the first time in almost a decade, a Sunday afternoon slate of classes in Calsonic Arena.  The classes held today were those originally scheduled for Saturday morning.

            With an early start time of 6:30 pm, we will see two of the classes, the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-14 on Walking Ponies and Elite Owner-Amateur Gentleman riders on Walking Mares or Geldings, originally scheduled for Friday evening tonight.  The Walking Yearling World Grand Championship was also rescheduled from last evening to allow for the Yearling preliminaries to be held today.

            There may be a new start time, but the other traditions remain the same, promptly at 6:30 pm, the big gate swung open and Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton entered the ring with the nation’s colors.  The invocation for the evening was given by Rev Lloyd Doyle, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the national anthem by Kylene Crabb of Shelbyville, Tenn.

It's Only A Game and Chad Baucom

            Marking the cards for this and all sessions of the 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National celebration are Jamie Bradshaw, Union Grove, Ala., Wink Groover, Longview, Texas, Tommy Loid, Bowling Green, Ky., Huck Moss, Trenton, S.C., and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            Up first on the evening’s agenda, Class 51, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-14 Years on Walking Ponies.  Nineteen of the 31 expected made the gate call to work for World Championship acclaim under the watchful eye of Judge Tommy Loid and staff.  Capturing the win in the event for the second consecutive year was Rudy Rudiger and Alexandria Holland showing for The Neal Holland Family of Decatur, Ala.  With this win, they retire The Midnight Sun – Mrs. G.M. Livingston Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Reserve honors went to the classic horse and former WGC Silver Design and Barclay Woodward riding for Ronnie and Jennifer Woodward of Hartselle, Ala.  Another former WGC, Electrifying, and Samantha Gaddy were third for Rina Gaddy of Kernersville, N.C.

            Class 52, Elite Owner-Amateur Gentleman Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings saw 14 of the 33 entered make their way down the hill to work as Judge Huck Moss called the gaits in the division.  Well, the panel certainly didn’t make an irrational decision in this event as they chose Irrational Exuberance and Brett Jones, champions at Jackson, Miss.’s Mississippi State Charity Horse Show, as champions in the division for Brett & Lisa Jones of Tylertown, Miss.  Headed back to the palmetto state, Decisions Decisions and owner/exhibitor Jeff Smith of Greer, S.C. picked up the reserve title.  Loose N Busty and owner/exhibitor Jack Heffington of Murfreesboro, Tenn., were third. 

Jacob, Jim,Luke and Lisa Baum after the 15-17 Walking Pony win
            The Yearling World Grand Championship, class 74, was up next with 12 entries making the call to work for the first set of roses of the 2006 Celebration as Judge Tommy Loid and staff watched on.  Topping the division with a unanimous decision of the panel was Bubba’s Sip Of Gin and Robert Nelms, champions in today’s Yearling Colt preliminary, for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.  With this win and Dr. Richards’s win in this event in 2004, he retires The Jack C. Stafford Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Scott Edwards Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Reserve honors went to Jazzed And Steppin and Chris Richards were reserve for Bumpus, Pirolo and Richards of Murfreesboro, Franklin and Hendersonville, Tenn.  Giovanni Casanova and Allen Curtis were third for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.  On an interesting note, Dr. Richards had at least an interest in all of the top four winners in this event.

            Back to the evening’s regular schedule, and only 30 minutes behind schedule, not bad at all.  Class 77 brought the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-14 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings with 12 entries making the gate to work as Judge Wink Groover served as Call Judge in the event.  Well, moving into a new division certainly didn’t hurt the reigning Youth 11 and Under WGC The American General and Masie McSwain as they stepped right up and captured the win in this division, just as they did at Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s Bethesda Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South, as well for The Dan McSwain Family of Alpharetta, Ga.  Last year’s World Champion in this division, Ritz’s Diamond Joe and Alexandria Holland were reserve for The Neal Holland Family of Decatur, Ala.  My Silver Bullet and Barclay Woodward were third for Jessie Woodward of Hartselle, Ala.

Brett Jones and Irrational Exuberance

            Class 78 brought the Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings with 10 of the 37 with reservations making their way to the big oval to work for that coveted Celebration blue as Judge Tommy Loid called the gaits in the division.  Walking to the winner’s circle with a unanimous decision of the panel was It’s Taboo and Robin McDonald riding for Bruce and Robin McDonald of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Prior to this winning performance, Robin and Taboo had tasted victory at Panama City Beach, Fla.’s Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Wartrace, Tenn.’s Horse Show and Decatur, Alabama’s Walking Horse Association Of Alabama Futurity and Horse Show. The American Idol and Jeanine Gullett were a popular reserve for Ronnie Gullett of Duluth, Ga. Foolish Dollar and Wilsene Moody were third for Opal Moody of Batesville, Ark.

            Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings, class 79A, was up next on the program with 14 of 23 making the trip down the hill with hopes of riding right out of the Novice division with their very first Celebration blue!  Judge Huck Moss served as Call Judge in the class.  Riding out of the Novice division tonight was Doctor Liz and Jessica Popp riding for Bob Hurt of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Pushin’ For A Heartattack and Rae Shumate Tysor took the red silks back to Cumming, Ga.  Lindsey Hess has had a very good Celebration and made another good ride tonight with Miss Dumas Ebony to take third home to Harrisonburg, Va.

Rudy Rudiger and Alexandria Holland
            Class 79B brought 13 of the 22 programmed entries to the track to work in the Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings.  Judge Ronnie Spears led the panel in this event.  Topping the card in this class was the talented team of Genie’s Charming Lady and Jack Thompson riding for Mr. & Mrs. David Thompson of Edmonton, Ky.  Generated By Jose and Trey Blackburn were in the second position for Dr. H.E. Barker of Arab, Ala.  My Lucky Color and Allison Becknell were third for Stratton Hometown Realty of Harrodsburg, Ky.

            One of the evening’s true highlights was up next, the Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions (canter) with 13 of the 34 expected making the gate call to work as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits in the exciting class.  There was a slight break in the action as a shoe was cast by Impressive Motion, ridden by Bill Cantrell, putting Celebration farrier Louie Staton to work for one of the first times of the 2006 show.  Staton was able to replace the shoe and allow the pair to continue competition.  After a second running walk brought the Sunday evening crowd to their feet, announcer Chip Walters called the team of It’s Only A Game and Chad Baucom to the winner’s circle, with the approval of the crowd, for Charles Clark of Charlotte, N.C.  This win went very well with an impressive resume that included wins at Clemson, S.C.’s South Carolina Ladies Auxiliary Horse Show, Albemarle, N.C.’s Stanly County Horse Show, Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee, White Pine, Tenn.’s East Tennessee Classic, Asheville, N.C.’s Land-O-The-Sky Summer Festival and Tazewell, Va.’s Tazewell County Classic.  Popular with the crowd as well, Star and Jackie McConnell picked up the reserve streamers for Opal Moody of Batesville, Ark.  The striking grey America Online and Larry Edwards were third for The Paul Bryan Family of Thomasville, Ga.

Doctor Liz and Jessica Popp

            Eight of the 20 with reservations made their way to the big oval for class 81, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 Years on Walking Ponies.  Judge Wink Groover served as Call Judge in this class.  Riding away with a unanimous decision of the panel were the classic horse and many time World Champion, Master’s Gunsmoke and Jacob Baum showing for dad, Dr. Jim Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.  For those of you who might not be aware, a classic horse is one that is 15 years or older in age.  Gunsmoke’s been winning the blues for a number of years, including wins this year at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Central High School Band Boosters Horse Show, Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee and Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Great Strides Horse Show and doesn’t appear to be ready to stop now.  In My Pocket and Dalia Smith collected the red silks for Annabelle Smith of Manchester, Ky.  Caitlin Koszuta and Raise A Ruckus took the yellow streamers back for Catherine Koszuta of Ocala, Fla.

            Class 82, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings brought nine of the 12 programmed entries to work for World Championship acclaim as Judge Tommy Loid led the staff.  It will be a happy ride back up to the Upper Cumberland tonight for the McWilliams family as granddaughter Danielle Collier topped this division for the second consecutive year with The Lady Has Connections for McWilliams Realty of Cookeville, Tenn.  Tex-R-Us and Ashley Diamond Pollack were hot on their heels to take the red ribbon back to the Golden State for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Third went back east with Pusher’s Hot Cargo and Morgan Collins for Jimmy Collins of Burlington, N.C.

Bruce and Robin McDonald after It’s Taboo win

            The trainers were back in class 83, Walking Mares, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter).  Seven of the 23 expected took the track to show their stuff for Judge Huck Moss and his cohorts.  Causing a REAL commotion in the division for the second consecutive year was 2006 Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South Champions, I’m Causin’ Commotion and John Allan Callaway pulling in the win for Jim and Debbie Myers on Flat Creek, Tenn. This win also marked at least four consecutive Celebration winner’s circle appearances for Callaway and Commotion.  Wartrace, Tenn. Horse Show’s Walking Horse Stake Champion’s Bo’s Shania Rose and Herbert Derickson were reserve for Dr. Harv Carlon on Lowell, Mi. and Flat Creek, Tenn.  Neon Bright and Larry Edwards were third for Dr. & Mrs. W.H. Hill of Powder Springs, Ga.

            The pros stayed on center stage for class 84, Show Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, with 18 of the 45 signed up coming down the hill to work for Judge Ronnie Spears, the judging panel and the large Sunday night crowd.  Announcer Chip Walters stated that the actual attendance for the evening was 10,989, with a large number still on hand after the 10:00 hour.  He also stated that actual attendance through tonight is up 1148 over 2005.  Well, it was another big win for The Great Escape.  After topping the Youth 12-17 Show Pleasure event earlier this week with Sara Akin, he was in the winner’s circle once again tonight with trainer Jackie McConnell showing for Camille Akin of Collierville, Tenn.  McConnell had escaped with 2006 blues from Shelbyville, Tenn.’s National Trainers’ Show, Spring Fun Show and Tony Rice Horse Show.  Obviously, this horse just LIKES Shelbyville!  Absolutely Flawless and John Allan Callaway were in the second position for C & C Stables, LLC of Lawrenceville, Ga.  Joe Cotten and San Juan were third in the talented division for Mr. & Mrs. Eric Lackey of High Point, N.C. and Shelbyville, Tenn.

The American General and Masie McSwain

            Class 85A brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings with 17 of the 42 with reservations showing hard for Call Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his cohorts.  Just a few days ago, Spud Warr was a long-time walking horse exhibitor who had never won a blue ribbon at The Celebration.  Now, in the matter of a few days, he has two!  He won with Roll The Gold in the Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion division on Thursday evening and tonight he took charge of this event with The Man Of The Town for The Spud Warr Family of Phenix City, Ala.  Warr and The Man Of The Town had already had a successful 2006 with wins at the South Alabama Charity Horse Show, Murfreesboro, Tenn. Exchange Club Horse Show, Woodbury, Tenn. Lions Club Horse Show and Lewisburg, Tenn.’s Marshall County Horse Show.  Not bad, not bad at all!  A High Dollar Charge and Beverly Sherman were second in the division for Beverly Sherman of Dallas, Texas.  Diana Bowers and Jose’s Habanero carried the yellow streamer home to Carter County in East Tennessee for The Keith Bowers Family of Elizabethton, Tenn.

            Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, class 85B, brought 26 more hard working teams down to the main arena to work as Judge Wink Groover capably handled duties as Call Judge.  Not luck, but talent got it done for Royal Luck and Clay Mills as they topped the division with a unanimous decision to capture the win for Lee Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C. This win was preceded by victories at the North Carolina Spring Show, Clemson, S.C.’s South Carolina Ladies Auxiliary Horse Show, Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee and Tazewell, Va.’s Tazewell County Classic and a prestigious reserve at Columbia, Tenn.’s Money Tree Classic. Reserve honors went back to the Magnolia State with Jimmy Lackey and JFK’s Bravado riding for Jimmy and Carol Lackey of Forest, Miss.  Shelbyville’s own Dr. Bill Russell and Santana’s Super Natural were third for William and Alice Russell.

            In the Novice division, class 86 brought the Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Stallions to the track with 20 making the call to work as Judge Tommy Loid led the judging panel.  Riding out of the Novice ranks and taking the Celebration blue back to the Bluegrass was Who Am I and Karen Rector riding for Duane Rector of Smiths Grove, Ky.  Rector and Who Am I picked up 2006 wins at Harrodsburg, Ky.’s Derby Classic, Lancaster, Ky.’s KWHA Juvenile Auxiliary Show and the Owingsville, Ky. Horse Show.  Decatur, Ala.’s Kelly Peevy stayed in the novice division for another day collecting reserve honors with The Dance Hall Doctor.  The Games We Play and Tracy Barron were third for The Luther Fuller Family of Kingsport, Tenn. 

            A truly fun class is up next on the schedule, class 87, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Riders 70 & Over.  This reporter only hopes that he will be able to ride as well as this group when he’s 50, much less 70.  They are very impressive indeed.  Ten of the 23 registered for the event made the call to work as Judge Huck Moss called the gaits.  With a first on all five judges cards, Cash’s All Star and Dr. W.H. Hill were truly impressive in taking the win for Dr. & Mrs. W.H. Hill of Powder Springs, Ga.  If everyone could ride like Dr. Hill!  Sitting up straight, holding tight, looking straight through the horse’s ears, totally in control and smiling all the way.  Most trainers only dream of their amateurs performing so well.  But, I guess that explains why Dr. Hill has been so successful during his many years in the show ring.   This season’s been pretty solid as well with wins at the Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Dawson, Ga.’s Cloverleaf Classic, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Spring Fun Show and Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s Bethesda Horse Show. Mr. Bobby Luna and Willie Mays were impressive in their reserve performance for Mr. & Mrs. Bobby Luna of Franklin, Tenn.  He’s Keep N Time and owner/exhibitor Martha Gandy of Forest City, Ark., were third.

            The final class of the evening was the Owner-Amateur Riders 50 and Over on Park Pleasure Walking Horses with 14 of the 23 programmed entries traveling down the ramp to work as Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits.  Everyone is about to learn that they have to watch out for those Gladney boys.  Yes, they may be as nice as they come, but when it comes time to head to the show ring, they’ll be riding hard and riding to win.  Tonight it was Darden Gladney climbing in the irons of Tijuana Tex to top this event for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.  Darden’s brother, Dr. John Gladney already picked up one World title earlier this week with Tex and Darden had a win to his credit as will with It’s Up In Arms.  Another Two-Time 2006 World Champion, Santana’s Coin teamed with John McNeely to capture reserve for Lindsey Landrum and John McNeely of Franklin, Tenn., and Blowing Rock, N.C.  Judge’s Red Alert and Elaine Pinner were third for Ralph & Elaine Pinner of Senatobia, Miss.

            It’s been a busy day on the Celebration grounds sure enough, but very successful.  The afternoon performance had a strong, vocal crowd on hand to watch full classes of competition, the WHT Auxiliary Dog Show had almost 200 entries taking part in Champions Arena and the stables couldn’t have looked better for the judging of the Stable Decorating contest.  To make things even better, after uncertainty on Friday Night and Saturday Morning, the Saturday and Sunday evening performances have been outstanding with almost 22,000 on hand Saturday night and right at 11,000 on Sunday night and 265 entries hitting the track on Sunday night.  Impressive results indeed!

Make sure to be on hand Monday evening because it will be outstanding for sure, Two-Year-Old Geldings, Three-Year-Old Stallions, Two-Year-Old Stallions, 15.2 and Under Walking Stallions are just the highlights.  It will be one GREAT night of horse show.  Make sure you’re here and don’t miss a minute!

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