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In The Midnight Hour...



In The Midnight Hour...

By Melissa R. Stevens

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The first round of evening sessions at the 65th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration got under way with record breaking attendance. A large crowd of 11,457 packed the Celebration Arena. The paid attendance of 22,569 is the second highest for this night in the history of the Celebration.

In the first class of the night, 15 darling riders ages 11 and under made their way through the gate for the Owner Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Mares class. Jamie Hankins was the call judge for this class. Thunderous applause was heard throughout Celebration Arena as the winner of the class was announced. Owner/exhibitor Amy Ann McCormick of Shelbyville, Tenn., aboard Collector's Mindy received a blue ribbon to match her bright blue coat. McCormick and Collector's Mindy were reserve in this class last year. Gen's Burning Rage ridden by Maisie McSwain for the Dan McSwain family of Atlanta, Ga., was awarded the reserve ribbon. Sunrise At Midnight and Jordan Kidd finished with the third place tie for owner Harmon & Kidd of Wartrace, Tenn.

Next up, 23 of the 26 entries in the program answered the gate call for Section A of the Three-Year-Old Walking Geldings class. The class was split into two sections to accommodate the large number of entries with Paul Watlington calling the first section. After two time outs were called resulting in the significant delay of the action, San Juan and Joe Cotten were called to the winner's circle for Mr. and Mrs. Eric Lackey of High Point, N.C. George Walker Bush with Joel Weaver up for Leo and Dewayne Whitten and Drs. Richard and Kristen Wilhelm took the reserve spot. Santana's Black Threat and Dick Peebles carried out the yellow ribbon for Kathy Graves of Moss, Tenn.

Laura Brandon was selected as the call judge for Section B of the Three-Year-Old Walking Geldings class, which featured 18 talented entries. Twenty-five entries were listed on the program. A time out was called due to a lost action device. When the action resumed, Charge Me A Dollar and Mike Hilley up for Kidd & Derickson was called to make the victory pass. A Screaming Eagle was reserve with Rodney Dick up for the Keith Baker family of Columbia, Tenn. Falcon's Backdraft rode out with the third place tie with Ray Gilmer up for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cox of LaGrange, Tenn.

A huge class of 37 Two-Year-Old Stallions with Owner/Amateur Riders filled the ring for Section A of this class. Gene Carswell was the call judge. Three time outs were called before the class could even get under way. After the class was called to order an additional workout was called for 15 of the entries. The Sky Command with Julie Grider up for the Tommy Grider family of Columbia, Ky., rose to the top of the class to carry out the blue. Willie Mays and Caresse Mills were called for the reserve award for Rusty Hyneman and Caresse Mills of Hy Steppin' Farms. Willie B Strokin and Brenda Bramlett rounded out the top three positions for Randall and Gloria Dixon and Brenda Bramlett of Dacula, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn., respectively.

In Section B of the same class, 35 entries made the gate call. Gene Carswell continued his duties as call judge. Nineteen of the best entries in the class were asked to remain for an additional workout. Highly Addictive and Vickie Watkins took the blue ribbon home to the Bluegrass state for the Tom Watkins family ownership. Sky Cash ridden by Judy Young took the reserve ribbon for Ronal and Judy Young of Bell Buckle, Tenn. Command & Control finished third with Sheryl Crawford up for Crawford Colts, LLC of Carrollton, Ga.

Jamie Hankins was selected as the call judge for a large class of 29 Owner/Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under. Sixteen entries were called for a continued workout. In the end, John F K's Delight with Sandra Johnson up for Waterfall Farms of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn., was called to the winner's circle. Mitzi Hooper rode Capone to the reserve tie for Mike Hooper of Loudon, Tenn. The third place winner, Olympic's Energizer ridden by Jennifer May for Allen May of Appling, Ga., was definitely a crowd favorite.

Twenty-eight Owner/Amateur Lady Riders on Geldings entered the ring to compete for the blue. Paul Watlington was the call judge. Fourteen entries were called for additional rail work. When the winner was announced, it was across the board votes as Gen's Fire & Ice and Susan Gordon made the victory pass for the Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif. Gen's Fire & Ice was crowned the World Grand Champion in the Owner/Amateur Youth 12-17 division in 2002. Pushin' That Jazz was ridden to the reserve tie by owner/exhibitor Sarah Dunn of Nashville, Tenn. Down Under and Patti Pollack left with the yellow ribbon for Pollack Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif., and Shelbyville, Tenn.

The Three-Year-Old Walking Mares class was split into two sections to accommodate the large number of entries. In Section A, 30 talented teams answered the gate call. An additional workout was called for 16 of those entries. I'm Causin' Commotion ridden by John Allan Callaway was called to make the victory pass for Jim and Debbie Myers of Flat Creek, Tenn. Altima was ridden to the reserve tie for Ed and Carol Sims of Anaheim Hills, Calif., by Jimmy McConnell. The yellow ribbon went to She's Barb Wire & Roses and Ronal Young for Ronal and Judy Young of Bell Buckle, Tenn. A thunderous applause was heard across the arena for the fourth place winner, JFK's Ice Lady ridden by Buddy Dick for Dan and Janice Roswick of Eighty-Four, Pa.

The 28-entry Section B Three-Year-Old Walking Mares class was called by Mike Carpenter. The 15 best entries were asked to remain for further rail work. The first place tie went to Skywatch's Dark And Stormy ridden by Sam Martin for owner Trisha Timmons of Charleston, S.C., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Second in the class was Ritzy Woman with Jackie McConnell up for O & W Moody, Ltd, Co. of Batesville, Ark. The third place ribbon went home with My First Dollar ridden by Allan Callaway for Dan Pratt of Kansas City, Mo.

The first place tie in the 16-entry Elite Owner/Amateur class for gentlemen riders went to Walkin All Over and owner/exhibitor Bob Medina of Skillman, N.J. Walkin All Over has garnered wins this year at the Trainers' Show and Germantown. Push Me Bold and Donald Stephens were reserve for the second year for owners Donald and Gladys Stephens of Shelbyville, Tenn. ADA2D and owner/exhibitor Dr. Jim Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn., rounded out the top three spots. Gene Carswell was the call judge for the class.

For the third consecutive year, Coin Maker and Suzanne Littell rode to the first place tie in the Show Pleasure Walking Horse class for amateur lady riders for Moore & Littell of Catherine, Ala. I'm Armed And Lethal was reserve in the class with Lee Wall up for Dr. and Mrs. Rosser Wall of Raymond, Miss. For the second consecutive year, Major Player and Courtney Griffith carried out the yellow ribbon for James L. Griffith of Paris, Ky.

In Section A of the Owner/Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Stallions class, 27 head-shaking, high-stepping entries filled the ring. Paul Watlington was the call judge. Two time outs were called delaying the class for a short time, but when it resumed it was action packed. Seventeen entries were asked to remain for further rail work, but only one entry could win the coveted blue. In a unanimous tie, Gen's Black Gin and Bill Johnson were announced as the winners for William B. and Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Gen's Black Gin has had a successful four-year-old year with wins at Lynchburg, Money Tree and Wartrace. He's Wild Eyed & Wicked with Mike Walden up for Mike, Amy and Taylor Walden of Ooltewah, Tenn., was reserve. JFK Again and Jeanine Gullett took the yellow ribbon for owner Ronnie Gullett of Duluth, Ga.

In Section B of the Owner/Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions class, 22 stunning entries made the gate call. Laura Brandon was the call judge. Millenium Masquerade ridden by Dee Dee Sale was called to make the victory pass for the Gilbert Miller family of Richmond, Ky. This marked the first world championship earned by an entry sired by the Miller's 1998 World Grand Champion Masquerading. The Lowrider and owner/exhibitor Susie Harmon of Wartrace, Tenn., was a strong reserve. The Lowrider has captured the blue at Columbia and Fayetteville this year. Kelly Gordon rode Simply Thrilling to the third place tie for Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif. Simply Thrilling has wowed the judges for the blue at this year's Desert Classic and California Celebration.

In the final class of the evening, the Walking Geldings, 15.2 and Under Canter class, 22 entries made the gate call. Jamie Hankins was the call judge for the class. A time out was called for an equipment malfunction, but the class resumed fairly quickly. The Prime Suspect and John Allan Callaway made the blue ribbon ride for Terry, Terry, Conners & Hooper of Morristown, Tenn., Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Loudon, Tenn., respectively. The Prime Suspect has wins this year at the Trainers Show, Gallatin and Woodbury. Armed To Show wore the reserve ribbon from the ring with Larry Edwards up for the Dan McSwain family of Atlanta, Ga. This talented entry has wins this year at the Trainers Show, Cloverleaf Classic, Gulf Coast and East Hall Dugout. Cut-A-Rug and Jimmy McConnell finished with the third place tie for Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J.

The entries kept coming as the night ran into the morning. Tomorrow night's schedule is jam packed, so come prepared to see the best of the best show and show and show...

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