INDIO, Calif.- Each year walking horse trainers and exhibitors make the trek to the desert town of Indio, Calif., for the Desert Classic Horse Show held this year on April 5-6. The spacious HITS Show Park was once again the scene of the 74-class event that encompasses all phases of walking horse competition.The Coshella Valley was enjoying 80 degree weather while the rest of Southern California was experiencing rain, which is one of the reasons for the popularity of the Palm Spring area.

Wallace Brandon of Franklin, Tenn., evaluated the Desert Classic entries. The management duties were handled by Donna West and her team of officials including Secretary Rose Ann Allard, Announcer Peter Fenton, Ringmaster Chuck Herb, Ring Clerk Nina Lovejoy, Paddock Steward Marilyn Herb, and Farrier Don Beekman. Quince Tree Photography was on hand to preserve the action on film.

The Motown Delight/Russ Thompson team received an unprecedented fourth consecutive Open Stake Championship title after one of their signature high octane performances. Proud owner Eva McClure was on hand to support her talented chestnut stallion and his trainer.

Team Thompson accounted for 29 blues and six tricolor sashes at the Indio show, with the Gordon family’s Stonegait Farms entries leading the way. Susan Gordon and the multi-titled A Specialist collected the Amateur Specialty Championship honors once again starting their season on a high note. Susan also made a Lite-Shod Western Amateur Specialty debut with Genius’ Dixie Chick, who is leased from Sheila Kyle for the season. Trainer Trish Wooten made the Western Open ride on the good Lite-Shod mare for her second blue.

Kelly Gordon and Countdown’s Cordell Walker followed up their Scottsdale success with additional Park Pleasure Amateur Specialty preliminary and championship titles. The Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty event saw the blue ribbon debut of Kelly and the flashy Simply Thrilling for the Gordon family ownership.

The ladies of Legacy Walkers had a good Indio weekend, what with Sue Harrington’s Amateur Three-Year-Old blue with He’s Pushin’ The Ritz and (mom) Pat Harrington’s Amateur Specialty preliminary victory aboard WGC Walking On Thin Ice. They joined forces to lead the cheering section for the Open Four-Year-Old debut of Oh My Gosh and trainer Greg Bryant.

In addition to the Open Stake Champion, Eva McClure also sponsors the Show Pleasure Open Specialty winner, Mark’s Bustin’ Loose, who was shown to the blue by trainer Jamey Thompson. The McClure and Brassy alliance back the Open Three-Year-Old Stallions star WGC It’s Billy The Kid shown under Russ Thompson’s direction. Kylee Sargenti rode Time To Glo to repeat her Ladies Specialty and Amateur Stake success from the 2002 Desert Classic, while trainer Ray Reis took the reins for the Open 15.2 honors.

Noel and Roberta Williams took pride in their Park Pleasure Open Stake Champion Dragonfire, who marched to the winner’s circle with Jamey Thompson in the irons. Genuine Cash was called for an Amateur Specialty Limit class blue with Noel Williams up for the popular Arizona-based couple.

The curtain opened on a new season for Sheila Kyle’s lovely young mare, Miss Spectacular, who walked to the Open Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings recognition with Ray Reis directing the good ride. Ron Kascius and Million Dollar Dream prevailed in the Show Pleasure Amateur Specialty preliminary for the Bartlett and Kascius ownership.

The flat-shod properties from Thompson Stables made a good accounting in their respective divisions. Nadena Watt’s Bad News Gold Hard Cash was called for the Park Pleasure Western Open recognition with trainer Trish Wooten and the Western Amateur Specialty under his owner’s direction. Watt also sponsors the Lite-Shod Three-Year-Old star White Hawk’s Bill Cody, who made his ring debut with trainer Wooten.

Nationally recognized Joltin’s Joe DiMaggio bested the Park Pleasure Four and Under Amateur Specialty class with Carleen Redmon at the controls for Gary and Carleen Redmon. A pair of Park Pleasure blues were awarded to Clanton and Sandy Dubose’s Rare Essence, who was ridden to the Novice award by Kelly Gordon and to the Junior Rider ribbon by Tori Cook.

Silver’s True Design posted three blues in the Lite-Shod Pleasure division with Christy Coon up for the Open and Amateur Specialty ties. Dawn Bransfield accepted the Western Amateur Specialty blue for the 4 J Land and Cattle Company ownership. The Sokol’s Ambushed, who teamed with Dawn Bransfield for three preliminary blues and an Amateur Specialty tricolor sash. Sommer Shamma was in the saddle for the Junior Rider award and Trish Wooten was the handler for the Halter Two Years and Over and the Model class ties.

The Golden West Farms posted 14 blues and a pair of tricolor sashes, with the majority of their entries competing in the amateur ranks. Fresh from his season-opening success in Scottsdale, Ariz., Double Java added dual Lite-Shod blues in the Amateur Specialty and Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty preliminaries and a championship sash in the Amateur Specialty Stake. Marcy Drummond enjoyed good rides for the Mark and Marcy Drummond ownership.

Tom and Linda Steves' talented mare Generating This Kiss did double duty as the Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty winner with Donald Steves' direction. She returned on Sunday for a Fine Harness blue with Tom Steves on the lines. Ebony’s China Beach was impressive in a dual-blue debut for enthusiastic new owners, John and Bobbie Parady. Trainer Manuel Rodriguez accepted the Park Pleasure Open Two-Year-Old award, while Bobbie Parady was in charge of the Amateur Two-Year-Old appearance.

Joyce Hofstee backed a pair of Indio winners in the form of Show Pleasure Amateur Specialty Stake champion Apocalypse and the newly-purchased Drop It, who strolled to the Park Pleasure Amateur Three-Year-Old honors. Tara Beck did the showing while mom-to-be Hofstee is on maternity leave.

Mike and Marilee Moran also had a pair of Desert Classic champions. Gold’s First Paige teamed with trainer Manuel Rodriguez to top the Show Pleasure Open class. Park Pleasure property, My Advice, also joined forces with Rodriguez in an impressive debut for the Open Three-Year-Old award.

Single blues were earned by Generator’s Open Specialty star General Custer, who is the flashy Nevada B property shown by trainer Scott Benham; Novice winner Tennessee Extra Cash with Tim Schamber doing the honors for Tim and Tammie Schamber; Show Pleasure Novice champion Patrick’s Ace, who made a good debut outing with Demar Nuzum up for O’Conner and Rolfingsmeyer; Rail Riders Specialty winners Santana’s Coin and Mark Drummond accepted the ribbon for Popler Creek Farms; and Chief Sierra, who was called for the Spotted Saddle Horse English Specialty blue with Manuel Rodriguez aboard for owners Frank and Linda Woodbury.

Courtesy Stables presented the Weanling and Yearling champions in the form of Motown’s Diva, who went on to capture the Halter Championship and Command’s Most Wanted. Raul Puentes trains and handles the youngsters for owners/breeders Eva McClure.

Owner/trainer Nancy Baldock made her long trip worthwhile with a very successful outing for her Lite-Shod Pleasure mount Second Amendment. They topped the English and Western Novice classes, along with the Amateur Three-Gait and Amateur Specialty Stake events. Phylicia Edmundson joined the TWHAC exhibitors with her Dillon’s Bad Boy to collect a pair of Spotted Saddle Horse awards in the Western Open Specialty and Amateur Specialty Stake categories.

Christy Coon extended her equitation show record with another Desert Classic reward for her skill in that discipline.

The show’s high point awards were earned by Ambushed (Trail Pleasure category) and Silver’s True Design (Lite-Shod Pleasure), both of whom are trained by Trish Wooten.