By Mark Davis

It’s Wednesday night in Shelbyville and that means it’s the final night of preliminary competition and tomorrow night, the spotlight will be on and there will be roses to hand out!

The night’s schedule featured 12 classes, highlighted by three sections of Owner/Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, Aged Geldings, Fine Harness and Mare and Foal.  While there are still clouds in the sky, the rains of the past two nights appear to have passed and with a little luck maybe the spectators and fans can make it through the night dry.

The judges for the 70th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Tommy Howell of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Mack Motes of Eagleville, Tenn.

The invocation for the evening was given by Stan Butt, Executive Director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association of Lewisburg, Tenn., followed by the singing of the national anthem by Mary Ellen Smith of Readyville, Tenn.

Class 125A featured Fine Harness with six of the 18 on the books making the call to work for the honor of driving to the winner’s circle as Judge Rollie Beard called the gaits in the section.  Driving away with the win in the event was Flame’s Magic In Command and Ronal Young in the bike for Mr. & Mrs. James McKay of Odessa, Fla.  Stretch Armstrong and Sonny Holt pulled in for the red streamers for Cass & Spiller of New Orleans, La., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Bill Cantrell and Mighty Brew were third for Dr. Linda Jones and Haley Lane of Bainbridge, Ga.

The B section of Fine Harness featured nine of the 18 programmed entries making their way down the hill to work for World Championship acclaim under the watchful eye of Judge Nathan Clark and his panel.  Making the drive down victory lane in the section was Wire Transfer and Dickie Scrivner at the whip for Curtis Williamson of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  He’s A Rebel and Dick Myers drove into the second position for Joyce Myers of Shelbyville, Tenn.  The striking gray Clutch’s Power Play and Scott Beaty garnered the yellow streamers for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The first of the three sections of class 126, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings was up next on the program with 16 of the 31 on the book working to the track to work for their chance in the winner’s circle.  Judge Jamie Hankins served as Call Judge in the section.  Taking command of the event were Barbara Kenehan and Ritz In Command riding for Jay and Barbara Kenehan of Flat Creek, Tenn.  This makes the second 2008 World Championship for Ritz In Command as he topped the Three-Year-Old Gelding class with trainer Rodney Dick earlier this week.  The Lineman and Spud Warr were reserve for Warr Development of Phenix City, Ala., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Hickory’s Sinatra and Laura Brandon accepted the golden ribbon for Wallace and Laura Brandon of Franklin, Tenn.

Class 126B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings featured 14 of the 30 expected down from the warm up ring to work for their moment in the spotlight as Judge Tommy Howell called the gaits.  Locking up the challengers to ride away with the win was Gettin' Out On Parole and Gail Walling in the irons for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn.  This win was preceded with 2008 victories at Panama City Beach, Fla.’s Gulf Coast Charity Celebration and Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s Exchange Club Horse Show.  Pulling on for reserve were Jazz After Hours and Debbie Eichler riding for Rising Star Ranch of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Showboat’s Heartstopper and Lisa Evans were third for Lisa Evans of Mt. Sterling, Ky.

Gail walling and Out On Parole were the Division B winners of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings.

Rounding out the division, 20 of the 30 with reservations made the call for class 126C, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings.  Judge Mack Motes served as Call Judge for the class.  Singing the winning song in this section were reigning Two-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding World Champions, Jose’s Dulce and Kathryn Ramsbottom riding for Bob Ramsbottom of Norris, Tenn.  This duo captured wins in 2008 at the National Trainers’ Show, White Pine, Tenn.’s East Tennessee Classic and Shelbyville, Tenn.’s PC Splash Classic.  I’m Rocky Balboa and Rhonda Mosley were reserve for Dean and Mosley of Cary and Monroe, N.C.  Patriots American Maid and Beth Sims pulled in for third for the Mike Chiappari family of Santa Rosa, Calif. & Bell Buckle, Tenn.

The professional trainers were back and in the saddle this time for class 127, Walking Geldings, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter).  Eleven of the 29 on the books made their way to the rail to work for the divisional honors as Judge Rollie Beard led the panel in the section.  When the work was complete, announcer Chip Walters called the team of Bold Vengeance and Rodney Dick to the winner’s circle for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn.  Pulling into the second position were Rainbow Of Colors and Tim Smith riding for G.L. and Beverly McNeill of Andalusia, Ala.  Jazz Time and Jimmy McConnell captured the yellow streamers for the Molly Walters family of Southlake, Texas.

Rodney Dick and Bold Vengence captured the World Championship title of Walking Geldings, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) for Judy McDonald.

Park Performance Walking Horses, Five-Years and Over were up next on the schedule, class 128, with 17 of the 33 on the program making the call to work in the event for Judge Nathan Clark and his staff.  Topping the good class was the team of The Concealed Weapon and Joe Cotten, 2007 Park Performance World Grand Champions and 2008 champions at the Gulf Coast Charity Horse Show,  riding high for the Robert Pollack family of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  All American Ritz and Howard Hamilton accepted second for Cynthia Wright of Jackson, Tenn.  Pzazz Marks and Tim Smith were third for McNeill and Adkins of Andalusia, Ala. & Ethridge, Tenn.

Class 129 highlighted the efforts of the Amateur Owned & Trained exhibitors in the Amateur Owned and Trained Walking Horses, No Professional Training within 90 Days.  Eighteen of the 31 expected made their way down the track to work as Judge Jamie Hankins called the gaits in the class.  Taking the win back to the land of the Tarheel, Extra Ebony and Clay Mills put on a stellar performance to top the division for the second consecutive year for Corbin Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.  This duo picked up 2008 wins at Dallas, N.C.’s Gaston County Horse Show, Dobson, N.C.’s Foothills Classic and Tazewell, Va.’s Tazewell County Classic.  Staying in the Carolinas, Cobra Commander and owner/exhibitor Debbie Wells of Florence, S.C. were the popular reserve, while Brigand and owner/exhibitor Jeff Smith of Greer, S.C. & Shelbyville, Tenn., accepted the third award.

The young trainers were up next for class 130, Young Trainers, 35 and Under on Walking Mares or Geldings with 16 of the 52 on the book working to the ring to show for Call Judge Tommy Howell and his cohorts.  Grabbing the gold in the division was Gold Poison and Tim Smith, 2008 champions at Fayetteville, Tenn.’s Blue Ribbon Horse Show, riding hard for Greg and Connie Frazier of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Headed back to South Central Kentucky, Busting With Design and Brent Grider pulled in for the red streamers for Ronnie Grider of Columbia, Ky.  Rounding out the top three was JFK’s Bravado and Gwain Wilson riding for Jimmy and Carol Lackey of Forest, Miss. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

Capturing the Young Trainers, 35 and Under on Walking Mares or Geldings was Tim Smith and Gold Poison for Greg and Connie Frazier.

Class 131 featured one of the highlights of the evening’s schedule, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 with 14 of the 28 making their way down from the warm up ring to work for the large Wednesday night crowd as Judge Mack Motes led the panel.  Exciting the crowd and riding to the win for the second consecutive year was the dynamic duo of NYPD and Kenny Compton, champions in 2008 at the National Trainers Show and the Spring Fun Show, riding for Jack Compton of North Tazewell, Va.  With the win, the team retired The Carroll and Ellen Lawrence Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Close behind in the second spot was The Games We Play and Clay Mills riding strong for Corbin Mills and Luther Fuller of Mt. Airy, N.C. and Kingsport, Tenn.  Command’s Wild Card and Abby Fox pulled in for the yellow streamers for the Quentin Fox family of Cookeville, Tenn.

NYPD and Kenny Compton made an outstanding ride and were crowned the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 World Champions.

The mamas and babies were up in class 132, Mare and Foal, with nine of the 13 expected getting all dolled up to show their very best as Judge Rollie Beard served as Call Judge in the class.  Topping the event was Pusher’s Walkin On and A Rainy Day Woman, handled by Charles Gleghorn and Christen Lovvorn for Charles and Joy Gleghorn of Fayetteville, Tenn.  Eagle’s Lady Sue and Good Til The Last Drop were reserve with Bobby Richards and Ashley Say handling for the Womack and Say families of Fairview, Tenn.  Cashin In for Jazz & Gen and NV-ME were third with Wendy Laughlin and Karen McGee handling for Washburn and McGee of Fayetteville, Tenn.  Probably the most interesting entry in the class picked up the sixth award as Perfect Cut By Jewel was shown with her twin foals Mr. Personality By RFK and Miss Congeniality By RFK with Bill Beech, Lisa Teel and Carrie Benedict handling for Lisa Teel and Mitzi Butler of Andalusia, Ala.  You just don’t see that every day!

The final class of the evening featured the Park Pleasure Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over with six of the 13 on the program making the call to work as Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits for the section.  Riding to the win with a unanimous decision of the panel was Fog At The Ritz and Patrick Thomas riding for Sisson and Hamilton of Beech Bluff & Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Marching Orders and Buffy Ailshie pulled into the second position for Ron Jones of Greeneville, Tenn.  Rounding out the top three was Generator’s Masquerading and Webby Burch up for Carl Lewis of Bossier City, La.

 With that, the preliminary competition of the 70th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record books.  A good crowd was on hand to enjoy the evening, which featured 157 horses shown in 12 classes and a paid attendance of 20,277 and actual attendance of 11,740.  What a great horse show it has been thus far and it promises to get even better with championship competition starting tomorrow night with 10 classes of competition concluding with the crowning of the Three-Year-Old World Grand Champion.

 Don’t forget, the Music In The Plaza will continue through Saturday starting at 5:15 pm in the Celebration Plaza and the Street Parties will get underway once again tomorrow night in the old warm up ring starting right after the show and concluding 2 hours thereafter.

Ah, yes, the fun is just getting started.  Don’t miss out!