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Honors Dominates Four-Year-Old Championship On Friday Night

It’s Championship Friday in Shelbyville at the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Tonight’s program features a total of 14 classes, 11 Championships, two sections of Fine Harness and the WHTA Ladies Auxiliary class, that is always featured on the second Friday Night. Of course, all of this leads up to the highlight of the night, the Junior World Grand Championship. It should be another night of exciting Championship competition.

The judges for the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Chris Bobo of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Brent Grider of Columbia, Ky. (Performance & Halter), Carol Smithson of Clarksville, Tenn. (Pleasure), Connie Waldo of Naples, Fla. (Pleasure), and Joel Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Performance & Halter).

The invocation for the evening was given by Rev. Monnie Caine of the Normandy Presbyterian Church, Normandy, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by the Bedford Express Quartet of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Up first on the evening’s schedule was class 151A, Owner-Amateur Lady Drivers, Fine Harness. Seven of the eight with reservations worked their way carefully down the hill to show off their good walking ways and their elegant buggies and attire as Judge Chris Bobo called the gaits in the class. Driving to the winner’s circle was Clutch’s Power Play and Kathy Owen at the lines for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn. I’m Chesapeake Bay and Joyce Myers were reserve for Joyce Meadows and Joyce Myers of Atlanta, Ga. and Shelbyville, Tenn. He’s Extraordinary and Ashley Diamond Pollack were third for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif.

Owner-Amateur Lady Riders, Fine Harness, class 151B, was up next on the program with five of the seven anticipated beating the clock to show their very best for Judge Nathan Clark and his panel. Making the winning drive was Foolish Dollar and Wilsene Moody-Kwok in the cart for O & W Moody Ltd. of Delaware, Ohio.  DJ Jazzy Jeff & owner/exhibitor Dorothy Davenport of Clarksville, Tenn., was reserve in the class. Armed Assassin and Tamara Gavin-Kasser were third for Carol Ann Gavin of Wartrace, Tenn.

During a break in the action, the Celebration crowd was graced with a visit from 2012 Miss Tennessee Chandler Lawson of Tullahoma, Tenn. Miss Lawson was driven around the big oval in a very nice 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible compliments of Lee Roy Cunningham of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Well, it was finally time to hand out some roses! Class 152 brought the Western Lite-Shod Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the ring. All five of the expected teams made the call to work for championship acclaim tonight as Judge Connie Waldo called the gaits. Riding to the tri-color and securing their second set of roses after winning the Open English Lite-Shod WGC last evening, was Catastrophic and owner/exhibitor Laurie Toone of Shelbyville, Tenn. Lil Wayne and Bobby Richards were reserve for Jeff Gillespie of Tazewell, Va. GiGi’s Jamaican Generator and Leigh Stuart were third for Kaitlyn Rippy of Greenbrier, Tenn.

Class 153 featured the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Walking Ponies World Grand Championship to the ring with all four of the teams on the official program making the gate call to work as Judge Brent Grider served as Call Judge for the event. As the spotlight searched the lineup, it finally settled on the team of Lined Walkin’ and Lilly Waites, up for the Andrew Waites family of Hattiesburg, Miss. With this win, coupled with their win in 2010, the duo retired the J.E Beasley, Jr. Memorial Challenge Trophy, the Little Big Man Challenge Trophy and The Master Plan/Gen’s Sundance Lady Challenge Trophy. Tommy Lee Jones and owner/exhibitor Benjamin Bowen of Randolph, Miss., were the popular reserve team in the class. Roll The Gold and Allison Thorson rounded out the top three for ThorSport, Inc., of Sandusky, Ohio.

Back in the pleasure division, class 154 was the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship with 11 of the 15 pre-entered teams making the call to work for World Grand Championship acclaim tonight for Judge Jennifer Bingham and her cohorts. Picking up his second set of roses was B B King’s Jazz with Mikki Eldridge up for Stephens and Womack of Grayson, Ky. B B King’s Jazz was a winner last night in the Youth Park Pleasure World Grand Championship with Jackson Stephens in the saddle. He also was a winner in this same class last year with previous owner Jeanne Patterson in the irons. Tijuana Tex and Darden Gladney pulled into the second position for Gladney Farms of Minden, La. Heat Index and Lisa Baker were third for Mike and Lisa Baker of Valley Springs, Calif.

It was time for Steppin’ Into Cash once again and tonight, $2,000 was given away compliments of Heritage South Community Credit Union of Shelbyville, Tenn. Bonnie Shofner of Somersville, Ky., was the winner tonight.

Class 155 brought the Susan Gordon Memorial Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the historic big oval. All eight of the expected teams made their way down the hill to work for the Friday night crowd for their chance to make that memorable spotlight ride tonight as Judge Joel Weaver served as Call Judge for the class. Making that spotlight ride with a unanimous decision of the panel, just as they did in the Amateur Stallions preliminary on Friday night, was He’s Vida Blue and Kay Green up for Dr. Jim and Kay Green of Meridian, Miss. Absolute Proof and Meg Callaway were the reserve champions for Ricky Young of Boaz, Ala. Sky Miles and Beth Sims were third for the Mike Chiappari family of Santa Rosa, Calif.

During a break in the action, the Susan Gordon Horsemanship Award was presented in center ring to Becky Coleman of Money, Miss.

Class 156 brought the Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary Members on Walking Horses to the big oval with 10 entries making the gate call to work as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits in the section. Riding to the winner’s circle was Powerstroke’s Evening Star and Jill Derickson up for McGee and Ingraham of Lenoir, N.C. and Shelbyville, Tenn. It’s worthy of note that Jill Derickson won this class 20 years ago (1992) on Countdown Heatwave and 10 years ago (2002) on Solar Generated and now, in 2012, on Powerstroke’s Evening Star! Mucho Pavo and Beth Lawwell were reserve for Ty Irby of Shelbyville, Tenn. They Call Me Samson and Karen Bean rounded out the top of the class for Bill Bean of Tomball, Texas.

The Trail Pleasure entries were up for class 157, Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Trail Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Nine of 10 with reservations worked down the hill to show their very best in hopes of walking away with a World Grand Championship title and a set of roses tonight as Judge Chris Bobo called the gaits in the class. When the work was complete and the entries lined up, the spotlight turned on once again looking for a Champion in the division. The light stopped on the team of The Wicked Master and Sheryl Volkman up and taking the honors back out west for John and Sheryl Volkman of Livermore, Calif. This team preceded this win with preliminary wins in the Amateur 3-gait Trail Pleasure on Thursday Morning and the Amateur Trail Pleasure class on Sunday Night. Jose’s Firecracker and Wayne Westbrook pulled into the second position for Bob and Wayne Westbrook of Shelbyville, Tenn. A Red Ruby and Liz Gassaway were third for Liz and Mitchell Gassaway and Mackenzie Morgan of Shelbyvile, Tenn.

The Trainers “Ride for the Roses” World Grand Championship (Riders’ Cup), class 158 was up next. This is a fairly recent addition to The Celebration schedule, but has been a very well received class. The class is for trainers that have never won a World Grand Championship and they must have shown (horse and rider) at the 2012 Celebration. Thirteen of the 21 on the official Lions Club program made their way down from Calsonic Arena in hopes of riding away with their very first set of roses tonight. Judge Chris Bobo served as Call Judge for the class. Making that first ever spotlight ride tonight and taking the honors back to Southwest Virginia was the team of ACC and Steve Hankins up for Rick Compton of North Tazewell, Va. Miss Ebony Rose and Ross Campbell collected the red streamers for Sudie Reed of Jasper, Ala. I’m Splashed and Tim Smith were in the third position for Hillview Promotions and Lindsey Landrum of Tupelo, Miss.

Wild Turkey and Keith Johnson of Shelbyville, Tenn., the reserve World’s Champion Hackney Road Pony to Wagon came to exhibit for the Friday Night celebration crowd.

Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Walking Horses World Grand Championship was up next on the schedule, class 159, with 21 entries making the call, making it the largest class of the evening, to work for Judge Nathan Clark and his panel. Of course, these Novice Riders are looking for their very first set of roses as well and they were working hard to accomplish that goal. The crowd appreciated their hard work as well as it seemed everyone in the Celebration Arena was cheering loudly for their favorite as they passed the judges. Making that final ride in the Novice division and riding away with that first set of roses was Jose’s Centerfold and owner/exhibitor Bill Williams up of Ripley, Tenn. Cougar and Tommy Vinson were reserve for Dr. Tommy and Pat Vinson of Columbus, Miss. Wired For Cash and Leslie Dotson were third for the Terry Dotson family of Kingston, Tenn.

The young riders were back on the track for class 160, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years of Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship. Fourteen of the 15 expected made their way to the rail to work for Judge Brent Grider and his panel. Making the spotlight ride for the second time tonight was Lilly Waites, this time riding Cadillac’s Bum, making the stellar performance to capture World Grand Championship honors for the Andrew Waites family of Hattiesburg, Miss. Pushin’ That Jazz and Robert Cortner were close behind in the second position riding for Robert Cortner and Alex Luttrell of Alvaton, Ky. and Winchester, Tenn. Be Cool and Jaclyn Compton were third for Rick Compton of of Tazewell, Va.

The trainers were back for what promised to be an exciting class, the 15.2 and Under Walking Horse World Grand Championship (Riders’ Cup). Six of the eight entries with reservations made the class, but never fear, they were six very good entries and promised an outstanding class. Judge Joel Weaver served as Call Judge for the class. Early on, Judge Weaver advised the teams that there would be a workout in the class. When all of the exciting work was complete and the crowd had let the judges know who their favorites were, the panel made their decision and called the team of Mr. Heisman and Brandye Mills to the winner’s circle to collect all of the awards that come with a World Grand Championship for Randall and Sadie Baskin of Franklin, Tenn. A Strong Need For Cash and Michael Wright were reserve champions for Jim and Jeanne Roberts of Wildersville, Tenn. Jimmy McConnell and Bee Bee King rounded out the top of the class for Rachel Castaldi of Skillman, N.J.

Just two classes remain on the Friday evening program and class 162 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Fourteen entries answered the gate call and Judge Jennifer Bingham served as the Call Judge for the class. Riding away with the roses in the class was I Am Mayhem and SueAnn Dowell in the irons for Jo Ann Dowell of Powell, Ohio. I’m In High Definition and Kenny Compton pulled into the second position for Rick Compton of North Tazewell, Va. I’m A Title One and Jason Myatt completed the top three in the large, competitive class for Jerry Myatt of Alvaton, Ky.

The final class of the evening was the much awaited Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship, and what a thrilling class it should be. One could tell that the Friday night crowd was awaiting this class as well because with the hour being past 11:30 p.m., very few fans had left. They were all eager to see what this class would bring. They entered the ring to Larry Bright’s signature “Flat Walk Boogie” and all six expected made the gate call to work for the title of Four-Year-Old World Grand Champion. Judge Chris Bobo served as Call Judge for the class. Making the flawless performance to impress the judges and the crowd was Honors and Larry Edwards, champions of the Four-Year-Old Stallion Preliminary on Sunday night, riding with a unanimous decision of the panel for Dan, Keith and Kelley McSwain of Gainesville and Duluth, Ga. Siege and Scott Beaty were reserve champions for Fred Allred of Jamestown, Tenn. The Jazz Player and Jimmy McConnell were third for Jimmy and Edith Dilday of Dresden, Tenn.

And with one final pass by the newly crowned Junior World Grand Champion Honors and Larry Edwards, the Friday night session of the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record books at 11:52 p.m., and all that remained was Saturday night, and we all know what happens on Saturday night! It promises to be another outstanding night of competition that you will not want to miss. Make sure you’re in Shelbyville and be a part of a Celebration like no other. You’ll be glad you did!

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