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Master Of Jazz & McConnell Crowned 2007 World Grand Champions


By Mark Davis


            A quick look around the big oval as the crowd, which would be standing room only prior to the end of the evening, proved that this was not any ordinary Saturday night in Shelbyville.  It was the Saturday night before Labor Day and for 69 years that has meant one thing, the final night of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and that’s the night the best of the best are crowned.

            Twelve classes of World Grand Championship competition highlight the evening’s schedule leading up to the granddaddy of them all, The Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  That class promises to be very, very exciting and usually has more than one surprise.  We know it will be a brother vs. brother affair with Aged Stallion preliminary winners Star & Jackie McConnell and Master Of Jazz and Jimmy McConnell coming back to fight it out.  Could Private Charter and Knox Blackburn or Rowdy Rev and Bill Bobo take a set up and ride away with the roses?  To add even more excitement, reigning 15.2 and Under WGC and 2007 15.2 and Under Stallion World Champions Santana’s El Nino and Link Webb held out of the 15.2 and Under World Grand Championship to show back tonight.  This reporter, for one, can hardly wait.

            As always, promptly at 7 pm, World Grand Champion rider Bud Seaton directed official flag horse Counterfeit Dollar down the ramp and into the big oval to officially get the evening underway.  The invocation was given by Rev. Stephen Caine, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the playing of the National Anthem by Bruce &Lisa of College Grove, Tenn.

            The judges for the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Allen Forman of Thomson, Ga., Justin Jenne’ of Lewisburg, Tenn., Sam Sorrell of Lexington, Ky., & Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            Opening the evening’s schedule, class 155 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies World Grand Championship, a brand new Championship added to the schedule on 2007, with 13 of the 15 with reservations making their way down to the big oval hoping to impress the judges, led by Call Judge Sam Sorrell, and excite the crowd.  When the work was compete, announcer Chip Walters called the hard walking team of Prime Poison and Brenda Carlon to make that spotlight ride, and after Mrs. Carlon gave her friend a loving pat, they headed off into the spotlight riding for Dr. Harvey & Brenda Carlon of Lowell, Mi. & Flat Creek, Tenn.  Shock Jock and Becky Coleman were reserve in the event for Dr. Michael & Becky Coleman of Money, Miss.  Owner/exhibitor Stephanie Gordon of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Olympic Power pulled in for the third award.

            Staying in the Amateur division, class 156 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship with nine of the 15 beating the clock to work for their chance at a set of roses as Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits.  As organist Larry Bright played “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”, it was the team of A High Dollar Charge and owner/exhibitor Beverly Sherman picking up the roses to take them home to Dallas, Texas.  Headed out to the Golden State, JFK’S Irish Dream and Sue Harrington proudly accepted the red streamers for Joe Harrington of LaQuinta, Calif.  Silverado Spirit and Erin Graf garnered the yellow ribbon for David & Erin Graf of South Portsmouth, Ky.

            Getting in the western way, Class 157 featured the Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship with eight of the 10 programmed entries working their way down to the crowded house as Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge in the section.  Picking up their third set of roses for the 2007 show, Drop The Hammer and Connie Waldo were back at the top of this division for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Red Sunday’s Best and Laurie Toone were reserve for Jared Carrier & Laurie Toone of Franklin, Ky. & Oakland, Tenn.  Miles Irby and Jose Quervo Gold were third for Davis & Williamson of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

            The amateur riders were back for class 158, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship.  Twenty of the 23 on the books made the trip down from Calsonic Arena to show off their very best for Judge Allen Forman and his cohorts.  Taking the roses home to Atlanta, Ga, Palm Beach Ritz and owner/exhibitor Sandra Johnson put on an exquisite performance once again, after topping their preliminary earlier in the week.  I’m NRA and David Sisk pulled in to pick up the red streamers for proud mom, Linda Sisk of Columbia, Tenn.  Meg Young and Absolute Proof accepted third for Ricky Young of Boaz, Ala.

            Another brand new Championship on The Celebration schedule, class 159 featured the Owner-Amateur Youth English or Western Trail Pleasure, Riders 6-17 Years, World Grand Championship with 20 of the 21 that called ahead working hard for their chance in the spotlight under the careful watch of Judge Justin Jenne’ and staff.  Headed way out west picking up the very first set of roses in the division, Push N For Pleasure and Ashley Diamond Pollack made her first spotlight ride for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Hallelujah In The Sky and owner/exhibitor Logan Hankins of Paris, Ky., pulled in for the good reserve.  Floridian Taylor Gray and Delight Silver Design were third for Darren Gray of Clermont, Fla.

            The babies were back for class 160, Walking Weanling World Grand Championship.  All eleven teams with reservations in the event walked their way down to the big oval to show off their very best for Judge Sam Sorrell and the panel.  When the work was complete,  it was the duo of Bambini and Carlyle Johnson walking in the spotlight with a unanimous decision of the panel for Jack Heffington of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Chris Hazelwood and Ike Turner walked in for the red streamers for Jacoby Farms of Columbia, Tenn.  One Bodacious Stone and Robert Nelms stopped in for the yellow ribbon for Brian & Katherine Velasquez of West Lafayette, Ind.

            Class 161 featured the Two-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship with all 16 of the expected entries working hard for the judges and the crowd as Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits in the section.  Proving they indeed were the real deal after topping the Two-Year-Old Stallion preliminary, the team of Arm’s Deal For Real and Joel Weaver rode away with the divisional tri colors for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Out All Night and John Allan Callaway was reserve for Dr Harvey & Brenda Carlon of Lowell, Mi. & Flat Creek, Tenn.  Charlie Green and Ozone’s Full Throttle strolled away with the third award for Ben & Dr. Linda Brogdon of Tallahassee, Fla. 

            In the break between classes, 2006 Walking Horse Trainers’ Association Trainer Of The Year Joel Weaver was called to the center ring to present the 2007 Trainer Of The Year honors to the excited and honored Charlie Green of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            The pleasure entries were back in the big oval for class 162, Owner-Amateur Riders on Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship.  Twelve of the 16 entries on the books made the call to work for their chance in the spotlight as Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge in the section.  Puttin’ the hammer down on the competition, Drop The Hammer picked up his fourth set of roses for the 2007 Celebration with Judy Leek in the irons for Waldo & Leek LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Nita’s Double Pride and Ginger Simpson rode into the second position for Jeannae Patterson and Ginger Simpson of Gulf Hammick, Fla. & Winchester, Tenn.  Major Orders and Sue Fullerton garnered the third award for Ronald Fullerton & Brenda Gey of Inverness & Montverde, Fla.

            As Class 163, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship, started to the ring, the rains started sending the fans for their ponchos as they enjoyed the talents of the 20 entries who made their way to the ring to work for Championship acclaim as Judge Allen Forman led the panel in the event.  Making the unforgettable ride in the section was I’m P Diddy and Sherri Pollack garnering the approval of all five judges for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Reigning Three-Year-Old World Grand Champions, Muddy Buddy and owner/exhibitor Alicia Perry of Gaffney, S.C., were the popular reserve.  The Indy 500 and Sue Ann Dowell stopped in to accept the golden streamers for Jo Ann Dowell of Canton, Ohio & Shelbyville, Tenn.

            The Park Pleasure Walking Horse World Grand Championship was up next on the schedule with eight of the 13 programmed entries working the track for the slightly damp, but still very enthusiastic crowd.  Judge Justin Jenne’ had his stylish rain hat in place as he served as Call Judge for the event.  As the rains came a little harder, announcer Chip Walters called the team of An Almighty Dollar and Patrick Thomas to the winner’s circle for Pat Cecil and Lauren Hamilton of Millington, Tenn.  He’s On Georgia Time and Jamey Thompson pulled into the second position for Guido & Child of Meridian, Idaho and Phoenix, Ariz.  Marching for third were Marching Orders and Buffy Ailshie were third for RPC Farms and Ron Jones of Greeneville, Tenn. 

            Class 165 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship (Canter) with eight of the 11 teams on the books working down to the big oval as the members of the crowd who had made their way to the exits during the shower started to return in anticipation of this and the World Grand Championship finale up next on the schedule.  Judge Sam Sorrell led the panel in the event.  Riding to the winner’s circle in the division for the second consecutive year was The Golden Sovereign and Keith McSwain making the flawless performance for Maisie McSwain of Duluth, Ga.  With the win the duo retired the Cliff Gillespie Memorial Challenge Trophy, The Col. C.W. Daugette, Jr – Moonglow, Jr. Memorial Challenge Trophy and The Ebony’s Dixie Belle Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Riding to the reserve with a roar of the crowd was Owner/Amateur Stallion preliminary champions, NYPD and Kenny Compton riding for Jack Compton of North Tazewell, Va.  Jazz King and Ed Breedlove picked up the yellow ribbon for Keith Breedlove of Buford, Ga.

            And with that, it was the time that folks have been waiting for all night.  No, I don’t mean the John Deere tractor coming to drag the track, but everyone knows that the appearance of the green machine means that the grand finale of the biggest horse show on earth was coming up next and let me tell you, the crowd of nearly 25,000 was more than ready! 

            Finally, it was time for the call for class 166, the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship (Canter).   Announcer Chip Walters called for the gate to open and let the 13 entries expected to make their way down as the crowd was up on their feet clapping to Larry Bright’s signature Flat Walk Boogie.  Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge for the premier event.  After the first round of work was complete, the entries were pulled into the lineup and the grooms were called in to remove the saddles for further review.  With the judging complete, the saddles were replaced and five entries were asked to park in for further work in their quest for the 2007 World Grand Championship.  Those included PGA & John Allan Callaway, Private Charter and Knox Blackburn, Santana’s El Nino & Link Webb, Rowdy Rev and Bill Bobo and Master of Jazz & Jimmy McConnell. 

            When all the work was done, announcer Chip Walters called the team of Master Of Jazz and Jimmy McConnell to the winner’s circle to accept all the honors that come with the 2007 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship for owners Lee Wall & Mike McGartland of Jackson, Miss. & Houston, Texas.  This win marks McConnell’s second win in the past three years as he won in 2004 with The Black Night Shade.  Reserve in the outstanding class went to the duo of Rowdy Rev and Bill Bobo riding for Bill Harlin of Franklin, Tenn.  Rounding out the top three in the event was Private Charter and Knox Blackburn riding for R. Bud Moore of Catherine, Ala.

            With one final victory pass from the 2007 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champions, Master Of Jazz and Jimmy McConnell, the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the history books, and what a show it was.  From the 100+ temperatures on Thursday night, to the unnamed hurricane on Friday night to the rains on both Saturday nights, it’s certainly been an eventful 10 days, but a very exciting one as well.  With all the uncertainty that surrounded the industry prior to the show’s start, the show itself could not have been better and went off without a hitch.  The horses showed, looked good and were as exciting as ever, the judges, as a whole, did as good a job as this reporter has seen in recent years and the crowds were large and excited.  Really, who could ask for anything more?  It certainly made for one great . . .Celebration!



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