by Mark Davis

Ah yes, it's the final Saturday night in Shelbyville. As the time nears 7 p.m. the capacity crowd gathers early to be sure to be in their seats for Patriotic Night at The Celebration, a very special opening ceremony which honors those fighting to protect our freedom at home and abroad.

Joining us as a very special guest of The Celebration was United States Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He left New Orleans, La. earlier today to come to Shelbyville to meet with a group of industry owners to discuss the issues facing the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. He stayed at the show to crown the 2005 World Grand Champion before returning to the embattled Louisiana area. Gov. Phil Bredesen also joined fans at The Celebration after having to cancel a scheduled Monday night appearance due to Hurricane Katrina.

Closer to showtime, one of the local Boy Scout Troops gathered on the south grass holding and extending a large American flag, in preparations for the opening ceremonies. And, then, official flag horse, Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton come down the hill and enter the gate promptly at 7 pm. Breaking with tradition, after a pass around the ring, Dollar and Seaton headed back up the hill. Posting the colors for the evening's performance was the honor guard from Arnold Air Force Base of Tullahoma, Tenn. The invocation was given by the Rev. Stephen Caine, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Shelbyville, Tenn. Following the invocation, a special presentation was given to representatives from Arnold honoring our fighting men and the part the Arnold plays in our nation's fighting machine. Presenting an outstanding performance once again singing the National Anthem and presenting her multi media show on the big screens was Lori O'brien of Atlanta, Ga. What a treat to have such an outstanding performer join us once again at The Celebration. If you weren't in the arena for the opening ceremonies, you really missed something special.

With the ceremonies complete, it was time for Vern Serex to gather up his favorite horn and call class 157, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship to the ring. Ten entries made the call to work for the evening's set of roses as Judge Sam Sorrell called the gaits in the division. What a class this was with some of the industry's greats in competition including WGC Miss Shout, WGC My Jackie O, WC Silverado Spirit and WC Flashy Cash just to name a few. However, only one could ride to the winner's circle in the division and when the work was complete, announcer Chip Walters called Silverado Spirit and Erin Graf into the spotlight to ride to the winner's circle for David and Erin Graf of South Portsmouth, Ky. Miss Shout and Brooke Baker were reserve in the event for The Keith Baker Family of Columbia, Tenn. Prime Suspect and Candra Shular of Dandridge, Tenn. were third.

Displaying the western way going, class 158 brought the Western Plantation Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship to the ring, nine strong, to work for the division's highest honor under the watchful eye of Judge Rollie Beard and staff. Walking to the top of the divison was the

prennial WGC Genius Dixie Chick and Trish Wooten riding for Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif. This outstanding mare really displayed her versatility by making the victory lap with no bridle. Calvin Klein's Mystery and Bart Gilmer rode to the reserve honors for Sims & Jackie McKnight of Mason, Tenn. Ol' Red and Russ Keyser were third for Denise Bader & Russell Keyser of Wemding, Germany and Bell Buckle, Tenn.

The performance horses were back in the big oval for class 159, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Twenty-one combinations made their way down the hill work under the direction of Judge Steve Brown. This again was an outstanding division of competition featuring WC On The Line, WC The Shock Jock, WC Gotti, RWC A Sensational Dumas, RWC Royal Masque, RWC Jose Beam and many other outstanding duos. Truly a treat to watch. Once again, though, there was but one set of roses. Shocking the competition with a stellar performance was Shock Jock and Becky Coleman riding for Michael & Becky Coleman of Money, Miss. This team was a 2004 World Champion Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion and topped class 120C, Owner Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallions on Tuesday Evening. Division B champion, On The Line and Suzanne Littell rode to the red streamer for Bud Moore & Suzanne Littell of Catherine, Ala. Gotti and Nancy Groover, World Champions in class 120A, accepted the yellow streamer for Wink & Nancy Groover of Longview, Texas.

During a break in the action, the Walking Horse Trainers' Association announced their 2005 Scholarship recipents. They included Ashley Allison of Shelbyville, Tenn. Erica & Maria Derickson of Wartrace, Tenn., Jenna Hamilton of Cedar Grove, Tenn. and Jonathan Tyler Hickman of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The babies of the horse world were up next for class 160, Walking Weanling World Grand Championship. Fourteen entries made the gate call to work for Judge Mack Motes and his cohorts. Topping the division with a "smooth" performance was Robert Nelms and Stormy's Silky Sue making the walk of a lifetime for J.T. and Martha Nelms of College Grove, Tenn. This impressive young filly preceeded her championship walk by topping the Weanling Filly division at the 2005 TWHBEA National Futurity and World Championship acclaim in the Youth Weanling and Weanling Filly divisions. Reserve honor in the division were claimed by Man In Charge and Caryle Johnson leading for Fred & Vicki Benjamin of Humboldt, Tenn. I'm All Lined Up and Chris Richards were third for Sam Kite of Telford, Tenn.

With a welcoming call from Vern Serex, it was time for class 161, the Two-Year-Old World Grand Championship. Seventeen entries made the gate call, but only one could leave the ring with the title of Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion. Who would that be? That decision would be left to Call Judge Mike Sims and his capable panel. Running away with the World title, Gen On The Run and Justin Harris, who made a fabulous performance to move up from a third place finish at the TWHBEA National Futurity last week, for Michael & Ty Hart of Corbin, Ky. Taking the red streamer back to the Palmetto state, He's A Weekend Warrior and Sam Martin picked up second for Jones & McLaughlin of Dillon & Florence, S.C. Maxx-A-Million and Rodney Dick were third for JoAnn Dowell of Canton, Ohio.

Moving to the Plantation division, 18 entries made the call for class 162, Owner-Amateur Riders on Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship. Judge Sam Sorrell called the gaits in the division. Prior to the tying of the division, 2004 WHTA Trainer Of The Year Jimmy McConnell and Celebration Director Bailey Little presented the 2005 WHTA Trainer Of The Year honors to Link Webb of Lewisburg, Tenn. Capturing the World Grand Championship title in the division was Jose Quervo Gold and Jeff Ray riding for Jeff Ray and Nancy Yonko of Murfreesboro, Tenn. C'Mon Turn Me Loose and Joe Dixon picked up the red streamer for Randall & Gloria Dixon of Dacula, Ga. Elegance Of Design and Nancy Lovato of Lehi, Utah were third.

Back in the performance division, class 163 brought 10 entries to the track to work for the Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship (Canter). Judge Rollie Beard led the staff in officiating the event. When the work was complete, Cheatin' Danger and Joe Cotten made the flawless performance to repeat as World Grand Champions in the division for Trish Harrison &

Four Centuries Farm of Nashville & Greenville, Tenn. With the win, the duo retired the Bedford County Challenge Trophy, The B.J. Duncan Memorial Challenge Trophy, The Buddy Hugh Memorial Challenge Trophy and The C.A. Bobo Memorial Challenge Trophy. She's A Jazz Thing and Jackie McConnell made a tough performance for the reserve honors for owner Kelsey Farese & The Farese Family of Germantown, Tenn. I'm Causin' Commotion and John Allan Callaway were presented third for Jim & Debbie Myers of Flat Creek, Tenn.

One of the real Saturday night Celebration treats is to get to take a look at some of the American Saddlebred World's Champions from their show in Louisville, Ky, which ends on the first Saturday night of The Celebration. Joining us this year was the Road Pony World's Champion, Free Willy and Georgia Blevins and the Five Gaited Mare World's Champion Glider's Star and Matthew Shiflet. Of course, The Celebration crowd came to their feet to welcome the two stars to the big oval. On an interesting note, Matt Shiflet had planned to make Glider's Star's Louisville performance her final show ring performance, but after the invitation was sent from The Celebration, the decision was made for her final performance to be in Shelbyville. Quite a honor,

quite a honor indeed.

Class 164 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the big oval with 17 entries making the call to work for Judge Steve Brown and his panel. Well, Bill Johnson was certainly pleased with his performance with JFK's Monopoly tonight. He topped the outstanding division, repeating his preliminary win on last Thursday evening, for William B. & Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn. Mr. Bill was so happy

that he tipped his hat and let out a rebel yell as the rode to the winner's circle to the delight of the crowd. JFK's Monopoly were the 2004 Three-Year-Old Amateur World Champion Stallion and Three-Year-Old Amateur World Grand Champion and picked up 2005 wins at Panama City, Fla.'s Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Woodbury, Tenn.'s Lions Club Horse Show and Belfast, Tenn.'s Lions Club Horse Show. With the win, combined with his 2003 win in the event with Gen's Black Gin, the Johnson's retired The Jimmy D. Rogers Memorial Challenge Trophy, The J.W. Cross, III Challenge Trophy and The Robert P. Lindsey Memorial Challenge Trophy. Reserve honors went to The Sky Command and Julie Grider riding for The Tommy Grider Family of Columbia, Ky. More Of The Major and Kay Green accepted third for Dr. & Mrs. Jim Green of Meridian, Miss.

Working our way towards the main event of the evening, class 165 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship (Canter) to the track, ten strong, to work for Judge Mack Motes and staff for the honor of being champion of the division. A true champion they found as the team of Generator's Champion and Caresse Mills captured the honors for the second consecutive year for the Hy Steppin' Farm of Germantown, Tenn. With this win, Hy Steppin' Farms retires The Cliff Gillespie Memorial Challenge Trophy, The Colonel C.W. Daugette, Jr. - Moonglow, Jr. Memorial Challenge Trophy and The Ebony's Dixie Belle Challenge Trophy. Walking their way to reserve was the duo of Dirty Little Games and owner/exhibitor Brandi Todd of Richmond, Ky. A past WGC in the division, Jubliee's Star Wars and owner/exhibitor Daniel Groover of Brentwood, Tenn. was third.

Finally, it was the time that the almost 27,000 in attendance had been waiting for, class 165, The Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship. Announcer Chip Walters called 10 entries to the ring and advised that a workout would be called. After the entries were worked both ways through all three gaits, they were called in and stripped for confirmation judging. Then, the competition really got hot.

When the work was complete, the team of Main Power and Joe Cotten, Aged Stallion, Div. B World Champion, to the winner's circle to capture the 2005 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship title for Holland, King and Kilgore of Arab, Decatur and Tuscaloosa, Ala. The duo preceeded this win by completing an undefeated season and capturing titles at the National Trainers' Show, The Celebration's Spring Fun Show and Woodbury, Tenn.'s Lions Club Horse Show.

Reserve in the extraordinary division was Aged Stallion, Div. A World Champion, Private Charter and Knox Blackburn riding for Hy Steppin' Farm of Germantown, Tenn. NYPD and Tim Gray were third in the division for Jack Compton of Tazewell,Va.

And, with a few presentations and a couple of pictures, 2005 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion Main Power and Joe Cotten made that ride with the roses that he will never forget and the 67th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record books. It was truly the greatest show on earth!