by Mark Davis

It’s Friday night in Shelbyville! With 9 more World Grand Champions on schedule to be crowned tonight, the evening promises to be just as exciting as last. Of course, tonight’s performance concludes with the Four-Year-Old World Grand Championship, which may just be the class of the year. The questions still remain this evening. Will NYPD live up to expectations? Will A Strong Dollar or Dragonfly or Blue Diamond make that performance of a lifetime tonight? We’ll have to wait and see.

The Friday night performance was dubbed “Patriotism Night” at The Celebration. Officials asked those in the crowd to bring out their red, white and blue. In addition to the presentation of the colors by flag horse, Counterfeit Dollar, a giant United States flag was held in the south end of the arena by Boy Scout Troop 370 and the MTSU Blue Brigade Color Guard presented the colors in the north end.

The ceremony included a memorable multimedia presentation of the national anthem by Lori O’Brien of Atlanta, Ga. Ms. O’Brien has performed at many patriotic events, including the 2000 Republican National Convention in Atlanta, Ga. Her performance brought the Celebration crowd to their feet and was an outstanding way to start the show. The Celebration also took the opportunity to honor the memory of PFC Daniel McClenney. The Flat Creek, Tenn. native was killed in action while on duty earlier this summer with the US Marine Corp in Afghanistan. McClenney was the grandson of longtime World Champion Horse Equipment employee Harold Smith.

The first Championship on the evening’s schedule was class 133, Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Amateur Riders, World Grand Championship. Eighteen of the 24 scheduled entries made the call as Huck Moss called the gaits in the division. Talk about a deep division, five of the 18 are 2004 World Champions with at least seven more past World Champions on the track as well. Capturing the honor of the first spotlight ride of the evening were the outstanding team of Armed Red Baron and Joe Dixon riding for Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga. With this win, combined with a 2001 win in the division, the Dixon family retires the Sue Brassy-Generator’s Elegance Challenge Trophy and The Wonder Lady's Delight Memorial Challenge trophy. By the way, this duo took home tonight’s honor with a unanimous decision of the judging panel. Metro Grand and owner/exhibitor Wayne Hall of Nashville, Tenn., a winner from Thursday evening’s performance, rode to the reserve honors in the competitive division. Gen’s Major Coin and Sherri Pollack accepted the third award for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn.

The Performance division was under the spotlight in class 134, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Ten of the 13 with reservations hit the track to work for the opportunity to make that memorable ride with the roses. Wayne Abee served as call judge in the division. It was a very special night for the team of A Specialist and Susan Gordon. They made yet another extraordinary performance to ride under the spotlight for the second consecutive year for the Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif. With this win, the dynamic duo retired the Dewey E. Arnold Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Gen’s Fire & Ice Challenge Trophy. Riding for the red streamer in the division with the vocal support of the crowd was Black Cash Delight and Gail Walling riding for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn. Past WGC Papa’s Smoking Pusher and Kelly Garrett proudly accepted the third award for Floyd Sherman of Dallas, Texas.

The pleasure horses were back for class 135, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship. Eight of the 9 programmed entries made the gate in the division to work for Bob Cherry and his collegues. When the work was complete, it was the 2003 WGC Pusher’s Beaming Pride and Howard Hamilton riding to the winner’s circle once again, with an across the board decision of the panel, for Jim and Debbie Nichols of New Market, Tenn. Joey Manos and Steel Watch made the excellent show to accept the reserve honors for the Joseph Manos family of Santa Rosa, Calif. They Call Me Junior and Kerry Fann rode for the yellow streamer for Mr. and Mrs. John Smith of Manchester, Tenn.

Bringing the crowd to their feet, 2003 World Grand Champion The Whole Nine Yards and Bill Bobo provided a crowd pleasing exhibition and accepted a token of appreciation from The Celebration before making one final pass with the roar of the crowd. Almost makes one wonder if his showring career really is complete.

Class 136 brought the Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary Members on Walking Horses to the ring with 22 making the call to work for World Championship acclaim in the division. Twisting their way to the winner’s circle in the division was the team of Night Twister and Dru McCormick riding for Ann Bailey of New Orleans, La. Reserve honors in the division went to Ample Cash and Karen Callaway for C & C Stables of Lawrenceville, Ga. Look Who’s In Command and Jaclyn Tillman accepted third for Jaclyn and Tinsley Tillman of Shelbyville, Tenn .

Class 137 brought the cowboys and cowgirls to the track 25 strong for the Amateur Western Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship as Tommy Loid called the gaits for the competition. After riding to the winner’s circle on two occasions with Sue Dean up in preliminary competition, The Kid Rock returned to the big oval tonight to capture the roses with Charles Howard up for Sue and Jayme Dean of Bell Buckle, Tenn. Doc’s Taking Charge and owner/exhibitor Rhonda Martocci of Franklin, Tenn. took the red streamer in the division. Iced Sundrop and Hannah Pulvers rode for third for Lynn Marchetti of Cottontown, Tenn.

Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Walking Horses World Grand Championship rode to the ring next with 25 of the 31 with reservations making the call to work for that very first chance to ride under the Celebration spotlight. Huck Moss served as call judge in the division. The panel made the decision that further work would be needed to determine who would have the honor of making that spotlight ride and asked 13 to remain. Busting the competition to ride with the roses in the division was Diamond Buster and Guylene Ozlanski for Tamarack Acres of Woodbury, Tenn. The duo captured their first ever Celebration win in preliminary competition on Sunday evening. He’s Wild Eyed And Wicked and Mike Walden, preliminary winners from Saturday evening, accepted the strong reserve for the Mike Walden family of Ooltewah, Tenn. Copy’s Touchtone and Robin MacDonald took home the yellow streamer for Bruce and Robin MacDonald of Lake City, Ga.

Class 139A, added a little variety to the evening as the Owner-Amateur Lady Drivers, Fine Harness took the track with 11 entries making the call to work as Wayne Abee called the gaits in the division. World Championship honors went to the stylish team of General Custer and Kim Reed for Steven Bourne and Nevada B Ranch of Minden, Nev. General Custer already captured World Championship honors in the Fine Harness division on Wednesday evening with trainer Scott Benham. Reserve honors in the division went to the classy gray, Master’s Gunsmoke and owner/exhibitor Susie Lavender of Carrollton, Texas. Storm Threat Too and Pat Rigual accepted third for Dr. and Mrs. Rafael Rigual of Oklahoma City, Okla. and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Owner-Amateur Lady Drivers, Fine Harness, class 139 B, drove through the gate next with ten of the 15 scheduled making the call to work for Bob Cherry and his cohorts. Making that championship drive in the division was the multi-titled champion Hal’s Six Shooter and Susan Coleman at the whip for Floyd and Coleman of Columbia and Unionville, Tenn. “Shooter” and trainer Wayne Dean topped the other split of the Open Fine Harness on Wednesday evening. The Games We Play and Brandi Todd drove to reserve honors for Todd and Fuller of Richmond, Ky. and Kingsport, Tenn. Many time World Champion On The Money and Kathy Owen took the third place streamer for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Twenty-nine of the 34 with reservations made the call to work for the roses in class 140, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings, Riders 12-17 Years, World Grand Championship. Joe Fleming served as call judge for the very competitive division. The panel determined that additional work would be needed to determine the team that would carry the roses in the division.

It was again a very “special” night for the duo of Pusher’s Special Design and Kathryn Ramsbottom as they made the repeat spotlight ride for Bob Ramsbottom of Norris, Tenn. “Special” and Kathryn preceded this win with a World Championship performance in the Youth 15-17 division on Saturday night. With the win, the Ramsbottom family retires the Bill and Sybil Staton Memorial Challenge Trophy, the Bob Cocke Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Winston and Katherine Wiser Memorial Challenge Trophy. Riding to reserve with a cheer from the crowd was the team of Downtown Pusher and Andy Adkins riding for Andy Adkins and Randall and Sadie Baskin of Ethridge and Franklin, Tenn. Prism Sky and Mary Beth Blessing, winners of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings, Riders 12-14, Div B, accepted third for What A Blessing Farm of Bristol, Tenn.

The pleasure division returned again for the final time of the evening for class 141, Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship (Canter). Nine of the 10 programmed entries made the call to work for Celebration acclaim in the division as Tommy Loid called the gaits. As the rain became more steady, announcer Chip Walters called the team of Strike It Rich and Howard Hamilton to the winner’s circle for Randall and Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farm of Dacula, Ga. This win marked the Dixon’s second win in the division retiring the Lorraine Martinez Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Strike It Rich Challenge Trophy. Reserve honors in the class went to the International champion Generator’s Power Pusher and Doug Barnes up for Dick and Sally Reilly of Lewisburg, Tenn. The third award in the division was received by Bad News Gold Hard Cash and Trish Wooten riding for Riverside’s Summit Ranch/Jim and Cindi Heiting of Riverside, Calif.

Back in the Performance division, Class 142 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the ring. An outstanding class of young horses brought even the wettest of spectator to their feet. When the action was complete, it was the team of Jose Dot Com and Beth Sims, Reserve Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion World Champion and Lewisburg, Tenn.’s Marshall County Horse Show Champion, riding with the roses for the Mike Chiaparri family. Making a strong performance to reserve was the team of A Flash Of Lightning and Carolyn Miller up for C & E Miller Farms, LLC of Elberton, Ga. A World Champion Two Year Old Amateur Mare & Gelding, Hey Hey Ole’ and Bob Medina accepted third for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman, NJ.

The final class of the evening was the one everyone had been waiting for all week, the Four-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship. Fifteen outstanding entries made the call to work for the chance to ride to the winner’s circle. Wayne Abee called the gaits in the division. After the initial work was complete, the panel made the decision to bring four entries: Dragonfly and Jimmy McConnell, Push Too’s Cowboy and Knox Blackburn, A Strong Dollar and Link Webb and NYPD and Tim Gray back to the track for ultimate honors. With all five judges in agreement, it was the team of NYPD and Tim Gray making the championship ride for the Rick Compton family of Tazewell, Va. Taking reserve honors with the rousing applause of the crowd was the team of A Strong Dollar and Link Webb for Curtice McCloy of Norman, Okla. Dragonfly and Jimmy McConnell rode to the yellow streamer for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman, NJ.

And with that, the evening was complete. An evening when a record Friday night crowd of 22,913 were on hand to see an outstanding show, and stayed on hand even through the rain.

Saturday evening should be just as exciting with the crowning of the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion and when the Celebration recognizes it’s 6,000,000th fan in it’s 66 year history. That fan will be the recipient of a prize package featuring a number of impressive items from sponsors and friends of The Celebration.

It promises to be an exciting evening that you will not want to miss!