By Mark Davis


         The Wednesday evening performance at The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is always great for a couple of reasons.  For one, it always features plenty of variety to keep anyone entertained and it means Championship competition is only one day away! The evening’s schedule featured 12 classes highlighted by the Open Fine Harness, Owner Amateur Riders on Three Year Old Walking Mares or Gelding, Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions (Canter) & Mare & Foal.

         The judges for the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration tonight and every night 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.

         The invocation for the evening was given by Rev. Lloyd Doyle, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Shelbyville, Tenn. , followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Pam Hanes of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

         Up first on the evening’s schedule was class 54, Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions (Canter), the last of the classes rescheduled after the show was suspended during last Friday evening’s storm.  Fourteen of the 20 with reservations made the trip down to the big oval to work under the watchful eye of Judge Ronnie Spears and staff.  Proving dangerous to the competition, Dangerous At Midnight and Jimmy McConnell rode to the top of the section for John Alford of Buffalo, Mo.  Link Webb and Tony Montana were reserve for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Worth A Buck and Todd Claborn were certainly that as they rounded out the top three for Beverly Sherman of Dallas, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.

         On with the regular Wednesday evening schedule, Class 123 A, Fine Harness, featured 11 of the 18 on the books showing off the elegance and style of a Tennessee Walking Horse hooked to a cart.  Judge Sam Sorrell served as Call Judge in the class.  Topping the division was the beautiful gray, Good Time Freddie with Justin Harris at the whip for Jeanne Harrison of Augusta, Ga.  Freddie & Justin drove to the blue earlier in the year at Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s Bethesda Horse Show.  He’s A Rebel and Dick Myers made the good drive to pull in for the red streamers for an always proud Joyce Myers of Shelbyville, Tenn.  I’m Splashed and Joe Cotten were third for Lindsey Landrum and Hillview Promotions of Franklin, Tenn. & Tupelo, Miss. 

         Class 123B, Fine Harness, featured seven of the 16 programmed entries getting all shined up and heading down to show off for Judge Ronnie Spears and his panel.  Burning a path to the winner’s circle was the legendary mare Gen’s Burning Rage with Joe Cotten at the whip for Dan McSwain of Alpharetta, Ga.  Clutch’s Power Play and Scott Beaty were reserve in the section for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Hosanna and Gary Edwards accepted the golden streamers for Mr. & Mrs. Louis Hawkersmith of Tullahoma, Tenn.

         The amateur riders made their first appearance of the evening in the big oval in class 124A, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings. Thirty-one of the 43 expected took the track to show their very best for the judges and the large Wednesday night crowd.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge in the section.  Taking the blue back to old Virginia,  Janice Fostek and Jose Solitaire were the very popular winners in the extra large division for Joe & Janice Fostek of Roanoke, Va.  This win was preceded by victories at the National Walking Horse Trainers’ Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South.  Go Jo Jo and Sara Moersch rode out with the red streamers for Rolling Hills Farm of Jacksonville, Ala.  Ritz Rattle & Roll and Lynda Brogdon rounded out the top of the class for Ben & Dr. Lynda Brogdon of Tallahassee, Fla.

         Class 124B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares of Geldings, featured another extra large section of competitors with 37 of the 48 on the entry sheets working to the big oval as Judge Allen Forman called the gaits.  The decision was made that additional work would be needed to determine the champion in the event and fifteen of the original 37 were asked to remain to continue to work for their chance to ride away with the coveted Celebration blue. Proving it was indeed their time, It’s Silver Dollar Time and Keith McSwain put on a stellar performance to garner the win for Dan McSwain of Atlanta, Ga.  This outstanding youngster had already picked up one World Championship at the 2007 Celebration with trainer Joe Cotten in the Three-Year-Old Gelding division. Laneview’s Master and Laura Beth Comley pulled into the second position for Gloria Wiley & Laura Comley of Macclenny. Fla.  Dark Escape and Brett Jones were third for Bret & Lisa Jones of Tylertown, Miss.

         The trainers were back in the big oval for class 125, Walking Geldings, Five-Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) with 14 of the 25 that called ahead beating the clock to work as Judge Justin Jenne’ led the panel.  Wednesday evening was turning out to be a big night for Team McSwain, with two blues already prior to this class and John Allan Callaway and Armed To Show made it three topping the event for Maisie McSwain of Alpharetta, Ga.  Card Trick and Jimmy McConnell showed their hand to ride in for the reserve for Medina & Blackburn of Skillman, N.J. & Franklin, Tenn.  Jazz Time and Herbert Derickson accepted the yellow ribbon for The Mickey Adcock Family of McMinnville, Tenn.

         Park Performance Walking Horses, Five Years and Over, Class 126, was up next on the schedule with 29 of the 40 programmed entries hitting the big oval, as the crowd cheered them along, under the watch of Judge Sam Sorrell and his cohorts.  Striking the winning look once again was the reigning World Champion All American Ritz and Howard Hamilton back once again for Cynthia Wright of Jackson, Tenn.  The Concealed Weapon and Joe Cotten were reserve for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Heading back to the Bluegrass, Merging Into One and Charles Tooley were third for The Andy Withers Family of Columbia, Ky.

         Class 127 brought the Amateur Owned & Trained Walking Horses, No Professional Training within 90 days, to the track with 21 of the 31 on the books making the call to work for Judge Ronnie Spears and staff.  Showing that little something extra that was necessary to ride to the winner’s circle, Extra Ebony and Clay Mills were just right as they topped the division for Lee Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.  Cobra Commander and Debbie Wells pulled into the second position for

Heiden & Wells of Florence, S.C. Jazz Eclipse and owner/exhibitor Justin Harney of Murfreesboro, Tenn. rounded out the top of the section.

         Young Trainers, 35 Years and Under, on Walking Mares or Geldings, class 128 on the evening’s schedule featured 22 of the 36 with reservations making the call to work in the one of the newest additions on The Celebration schedule as Call Judge Mike Carpenter called the gaits.  The addition of the Young Trainer classes for the Stallions and the Mares & Geldings certainly proved to be a wise one with a total of 74 entries and 40 actually appearing in the two classes which added a little extra bit of action to the Tuesday and Wednesday night class lineups.  Riding to the popular win in the division were Brad Davis and New York New York showing for Larry & Terry Lowman of Shelbyville, Tenn.  The Family Jewels and Buck Williams rode to the reserve for Bob Frankino of Cypress, Texas.  Brent Grider and Busting With Design were third for Ronnie Grider of Columbia, Ky.

         The amateur riders were back for class 129, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter).  Fourteen of the 28 expected hit the track to work for the World Championship acclaim in the section under the watchful eye of Judge Allen Forman and his panel.  Making the popular victory ride in the event picking up the cheers of the crowd all the way was the duo of NYPD and Kenny Compton riding for Jack Compton of North Tazewell, Va.  The Golden Sovereign and Keith McSwain were reserve for Maisie McSwain of Duluth, Ga. Another Georgia entry, Jazz King and Ed Breedlove pulled in for the yellow streamers for Keith Breedlove of Buford, Ga.    

         The mommas & babies were up for Class 130, Mare & Foal, with seven of the eight teams expected dressing up in their finest to come show off for the Wednesday night crowd and the judging panel, led in the event by Judge Justin’ Jenne.  Walking away with the win was the duo of Pusher’s Walking On & Especially Yours, led by Christen Lovvorn and Karen McGee for Charles & Joy Gleghorn of Fayetteville, Tenn.  With this win, coupled by a 2002 win by the Gleghorn’s, they retireThe Sam Gibbons Memorial Chellenge Trophy.  Priceless Gen & I’m Walking On Wallstreet, led by Jennifer Hall and Amanda Winters were reserve for Jennifer & Glenda Hall and Amanda Winters of Smyrna & Christiana, Tenn.  Cashing In for Jazz & Gen and So Be It Cash, led by Wendy Boyd and Carlyle Johnson were third for Washburn & McGee of Fayetteville, Tenn.

         The final class of the evening, Class 131, featured the Park Pleasure Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over.  Nine of the 16 expected made their way down the chute one final time for the evening to show what they had for Judge Sam Sorrell and staff.  Topping the event were the team of An All Mighty Dollar and Patrick Thomas riding for Pat Cecil & Lauren Hamilton of Millington, Tenn.  He’s On Georgia Time and Jamey Thompson were right on time for second for Guido & Child of Meridian, Id. & Phoenix, Az.  Buffy Ailshie and Marching Orders picked up the yellow streamers for RPC Farms & Ron Jones of Greeneville, Tenn.

         With that one final victory pass complete, so was the preliminary competition of the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and the extra large, loud and proud crowd of 12, 219 enjoyed all of the action of the evening and got involved letting the panel know just who their favorites were.  The real action gets under way tomorrow night with Championship competition with ten sets of roses ready to be handed out leading up to the highlight of the evening, the Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship.  It promises to be one exciting night, so make sure you don’t miss a moment.