By Mark McGee 

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The electricity and anticipation intensified as the second night of world grand championship competition at the 82nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration welcomed 13 classes to the big oval at Maverick Arena Friday night. 

The opening ceremonies for “Veterans Night” was a family affair with the invocation by Bobby McGee, minister of Grace Baptist Church and his sons Jason and Jeffrey McGee singing the National Anthem as a duet. Ronnie Spears and White Diamond Dollar presented the Stars and Stripes on this incredibly special night for those who have served our country.

Special guests included Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, United States Representative John Rose from Tennessee’s Sixth District, United States Congressman Dr. Scott DesJarlais representing Tennessee’s Fourth District and State Representative Pat Marsh, also a 25-year member of the board for the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. DesJarlais was praised for his support and friendship to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

Tennessee U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn was presented the Merit Award by the Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary for her service to the walking horse industry and her determination and willingness to fight to maintain the success of the breed.

Republican political strategist Ward Baker, whose campaigns include Blackburn and Hagerty, was also present in the arena with his family. Bill Hagerty, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, made a trophy presentation.

Six entries answered the call by ring announcer Mark Farrar, Jr., for the Owner-Amateur Drivers, Fine Harness, World Grand Championship, the opening class of the night. Leigh Stuart was the call judge for the first ever world grand championship given at the Celebration in the Fine Harness division. Making history was In Ted’s Image driven by Ron Lawrence of Lenoir City, Tennessee.  They were the unanimous selection of the five-judge panel. In Ted’s Image has six blues in 2020 including a preliminary win Monday night at the Celebration with Lawrence and a Fine Harness win Wednesday night with Bill Callaway. Suzy Johnson drove Janie B Good to reserve for co-owner Keith Johnson. Mr. October CTF rode out of the ring with a yellow ribbon with Chet Mills driving for the Fikes and Mills partnership.

Keith Johnson of Shelbyville, Tennessee, rode Line’s Moose Munch to the world grand championship in the eight-entry Owner-Amateur Riders on Country Pleasure Walking Horses Three Years & Under World Grand Championship class. They also won their preliminary class earlier in the show. It was the first world grand championship for the duo. Johnson, a veteran rider, returned to show Tennessee Walking Horses this year after a 14-year absence. King Mojo was reserve LaMar DePoyster in the saddle for co-owner Dr. Gordon DePoyster. Third was Late For A Date and Connie Holbrook for co-owner Bobby Holbrook. Mike Hilley served as call judge.

Call judge Leigh Stuart put 10 entries through the paces in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship. I Walk The Walk did just that on the way to the title with Carol Missildine for co-owner Russell Enterprises from Smithfield, North Carolina. Missildine and I Walk The Walk were the class winner in 2019. In 2018 Missildine rode Dirty Sexy Money to the world grand championship. With the three wins, Missildine retired the Royal’s Good Times Memorial Challenge Trophy. Dose’ and Lisa Baum were reserve in the class, with He’s A Dixieland Delight earning the third-place award winner with Vickie Penick.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Trail Pleasure Walking Horses Three Years & Under World Grand Championship brought five entries into the ring for call judge Leigh Stuart. Jose’s Twist Of Gin and Patti Pollock rode under the spotlight for S&P LLC from Saratoga, California. It was the first world grand championship for the team, but Pollock is no stranger to world grand championship titles. Jose’s Twist Of Gin has five blues, including three at the Celebration and one in the TWHBEA Darren Gray was in the stirrups aboard Lady James to earn the reserve title. Please Jolene and Carol Ann Turner took home the yellow streamer.

Maroon 5 and Dr. Jim Baum won the tri-color ribbon and the floral horseshoe topping a field of nine entries in The Susan Gordon Memorial Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, World Grand Championship class. Maroon 5, owned by Lucas Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee, has three blues in 2020 including the Owner-Amateur Riders 70 & Over World Championship. Dr. Baum and Maroon 5 won the Owner-Amateur World Grand Championship for five-year-olds in 2018, four-year-olds in 2017 and three-year-olds in 2016. Really Coach? received reserve honors withCarol Missildine for co-owner Russell Enterprises. Deal Me Aces walked away with a yellow ribbon with Robin MacDonald aboard for co-owner Bruce MacDonald. 

Ross Campbell was the call judge for the four entries in the Trail Pleasure Walking Horses Five Years & Under World Grand Championship class. Self Made Money carried Jessica Hlebak to her first world grand championship spotlight ride for owner Jack Pirkle from Gainesville, Georgia. It was their third blue ribbon this show season. Habanero Picante and Bailey Momb took reserve for Kimberly and Perry Walden. I’m Thunderstruck N.D.R. was third with David Mast in the saddle for Debbie and Wayne Simons.

Good Samaritan and Pam Russell remained undefeated for 2020 riding in the spotlight for the title in Owner-Amateur Riders on Five-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship. They were a popular choice with the fans and with the judges who made her win unanimous. Mike Hilley was the call judge for the five entries. Co-owned by Larry Russell of Pontotoc, Mississippi, the duo has four wins including the Owner-Amateur Five-Year-Old Walking Horses class Monday night. Gotcha Jose’ was directed to reserve by Dr. Brittany Baum for Jacob Baum. A Sunday Rose and Lisa Baum received the third-place award.

The Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship class featured 18 entries for call judge Mike Hilley. The Dixie Label and Sellers Veazey from Tifton, Georgia, made the spotlight ride for the second year in a row to the vocal delight of fans. They were the unanimous choice of the judges and earned a loud ovation from the crowd. The duo remains undefeated in 2020 in four shows including the first tie in the Owner-Amateur 15-17 Walking Mares & Geldings class on Thursday night. Dominick was reserve for Harper Grider, while My Hometown Girl placed third with Luke Callicutt in the saddle for John Callicutt.

With 21 entries, the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders Novice Walking Horses World Grand Championship class was the largest of the evening with Sam Sorrell as the call judge. A dozen entries were picked for a final workout, the first of the night. Siege sparkled and Tina Graves of Woodbury, Tennessee, glittered in her riding coat on the way to earning their first ever ride in the Celebration spotlight. Brain Power and Kathy Baker rode to a red streamer. Ole’ Red AC earned a third with Denny Russell in the saddle for co-owner Carla Brown.

With 10 entries in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Country Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship everyone got a ribbon, but there was only one world grand championship. Slingblade and Debbie Marbry made the spotlight ride for the second year in a row for co-owner Chester Marbry. It was the third world grand championship for Slingblade who won in 2018. Slingblade and Marbry are undefeated for the past two years. GiGi’s Majestic was third with Elysse Bradford riding for The William Bradford Family. Diamond At The Ritz shined in third with Kimberly Walden aboard for co-owner Abi Smith. Sam Sorrell was the call judge.

The Walking Horse Specialty World Grand Championship started with 10 entries for call judge Sam Sorrell but remained in line for the final judging. He’s Made In The USA was made for the floral horseshoe and the spotlight ride with Bill Callaway in the irons for Gayle Holcomb and Nick Master from Encinitas, California. I Am Mighty Jose’ was ridden to reserve by Charlie Green for Veronica and Shane Porterfield. Warbird was piloted to third by Ryan Blackburn for Ginger Williams.

Beth Beasley of Athens, Alabama, made her first spotlight ride aboard Zorro, Jr., a popular choice for spectators, in the 13-entry Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship. It was the second win of the Celebration for Zorro, Jr. with Justin Harris winning Section B of the Two-Year-Old Stallions class. The Blackstone and Ed Breedlove earned reserve. Captain Woodrow F. Call carried a yellow ribbon out of the ring with Jimbo Conner in the irons for co-owner Brian Jeffers. 

The Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship attracted an exciting and crowd-pleasing six entries under the direction of call judge Ross Campbell to close out the schedule. Casey Wright directed Jose’s Revival to a unanimous decision by the judges for the world grand championship for owners Debbie and Billy Woods of Lexington, Tennessee. The team also won the Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship and the Two-Year-Old World Grand Championship remaining undefeated in those three years of competition. Form A Line and Josh Watts were reserve for Ann and Chris Mills. Jimmy McConnell was in the irons aboard Mach 1 to earn the third place award for Donnie Taylor.