It’s Wednesday night . . .the final night of preliminary competition of the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  Starting tomorrow night, the spotlight comes on and the riding for the roses begins. There’s still a great night of competition ahead tonight and if the rain will stay away, it will be one great night for a horse show!

The judges for the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Chris Bobo of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Brent Grider of Columbia, Ky. (Performance & Halter), Carol Smithson of Clarksville, Tenn. (Pleasure), Connie Waldo of Naples, Fla. (Pleasure), and Joel Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Performance & Halter).

The invocation for the evening was given by Rev. David Adams of the Bell Buckle United Methodist Church, Bell Buckle, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Barbara Cockerham of Pineville, La.

Up first on the evening schedule was class 128, Fine Harness.  Eight of the 12 elegant driving teams made their way carefully down from Calsonic Arena to work as Judge Joel Weaver called the gaits in the first class of the night.  Making that winning drive tonight was Foolish Dollar and Brad Davis at the lines for O & W Moody, Ltd of Delaware, Ohio.  Clutch’s Power Play and Scott Beaty were reserve in the class for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  A Show Down and John Puckett were third for J.W. Beard of Troy, Ala.

The amateur riders were up next for class 129A, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings. Nineteen of 34 with reservations worked to the track to show their winning moves for Judge Jennifer Bingham and her panel.  Making the winning pass in the excellent class was Mario and Allison Thorson up for ThorSport, Inc. of Sandusky, Ohio.  Generating The Command and owner/exhibitor Florence Edwards of Dawson, Ga., pulled into the second position in the class.  Lindsey Lohan and Kim Butler accepted the yellow streamers for Bruce and Kim Butler of Morehead, Ky.

Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, class 129B, brought 22 entries down the hill to show off for the vocal Wednesday night crowd.  Judge Chris Bobo led the panel in the class.  Riding to the top of the stellar class was Miss Ebony Rose and owner/exhibitor Sudie Reed up taking the honors back to Jasper, Ala.  This classy young mare topped the Three-Year-Old Mare, Sec. B with trainer Ross Campbell on Saturday night.  She’s Limitless and Molly Walters pulled into the second spot for the Molly Walters family of Rancho Mirage, Calif.  Chips N Salsa and owner/exhibitor Nancy Groover of Waco, Texas was third in the class.

The trainers hit the track for class 130, Walking Geldings, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders’ Cup) with seven of the 12 expected taking the rail to work as Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits. One team certainly will be famous after their win tonight and that was the team of Country And Famous and Mickey McCormick in the irons for Rick and Marla Lovett of Mobile, Ala. Paroled From San Quenton and Josh Watts were reserve in the class for Dr. Ann Rea of Summit, Miss.  Like A Roling Stone and Link Webb accepted the yellow ribbon for Dr. Barbara Moersch of Jacksonville, Ala.

Class 131 featured the Park Performance Walking Horses, Five Years And Over (Riders’ Cup).  Twelve of the 25 on the official Lions Club program came to the ring while announcer Bobby Sands and organist Larry Bright saluted the veterans and members of the active duty military in the audience.  Topping the class with a unanimous decision of the panel was The Moonshine Man and Philip Trimble up for Bob Cunningham of Talladega, Ala. San Juan and Tim Smith were reserve for Mr. and Mrs. Eric Lackey of High Point, N.C.  All American Ritz and Howard Hamilton were third for Cynthia Wright of Jackson, Tenn.

During a break in the action it was time for “Steppin Into Cash.”  Tonight, $500 was given away compliments of Coldwell Banker/Seagroves Neese Real Estate of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Yvonda Campbell of Shelbyville, Tenn., was tonight’s happy winner.  So, as you can see, it PAYS to come The Celebration!

Amateur Owned & Trained Walking Horses, No Professional Training within 90 days was up next on the evening schedule, class 132. Thirteen of the 24 on the program worked to the track to get some recognition for all the hard work that goes into owning and training your own horse.  Judge Joel Weaver led the panel in the class.  Making that winner’s circle walk tonight was ACC and Kenny Compton up for Rick Compton of North Tazewell, Va.  This made ACC’s second blue of the 2012 Celebration as ACC and Jaclyn Compton topped the Youth 14 & Under Pony class on Friday night.  All American Made and owner/exhibitor Chad Adams of Goldsboro, N.C., pulled into the second position.  Better Stand Back and Tam Brogdon rounded out the top three for Brogdon and Heffington of Panama City Beach, Fla. and Shelbyville, Tenn.

The Young Trainers were up for class 133, Young Trainers, 35 and Under, on Walking Mares or Geldings (Riders’ Cup).  Nine entries worked to the track to show in the class as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits.  Even though it wasn’t quite midnight yet, it was only 9:02 p.m, but that didn’t bother the team of Miss Midnight Rider and Philip Trimble as they made that special ride down victory lane for Shelia Bullington and Maria Perry of Frankin and Ethridge, Tenn.  Jose’s Centerfold and Casey Wright were reserve in the class for Bill Williams of Ripley, Tenn.  Goodbye Joe and John Allan Callaway were third for C & E Miller Farms of Elberton, Ga.

Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over (Canter) was up next with nine of the 20 on the books working to the track to show for Judge Chris Bobo and his cohorts.  Walking the line to the winner’s circle was On The Line and Suzanne Moore in the irons for Bud Moore of Catherine, Ala.  This duo had an impressive 2012 resume already with wins at the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, the Gallatin Lions Club Horse Show, the Columbia Spring Jubilee and the Money Tree Classic.  The Games We Play and Clay Mills were reserve for Corbin Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.  El Zorro’s Star and Kenny Compton claimed the yellow streamers for Rick Compton of Tazewell, Va.

An always fun class was up next, class 135, Mare & Foal.  The momma’s and babies were all shined up and walking down the hill towards the historic big oval.  Five of the seven teams expected worked the ring in hopes of impressing Judge Nathan Clark and his staff.  Walking down victory lane was the momma and baby team of Pusher’s Jr. Miss and Miss Martini with Karen McGee and Lynn Womack at the lead for Howard and Beth Henderson of South Fulton, Tenn.  Getting Even and Detroit’s Dark Spirit with Alice Klein and Blaise Broccard were reserve for Maggie-Mae, Jon and Sherry White of South Lyon, Mich.  Whoopin’ It In Command and The Commanding General Lee with Nathan Mills and Logan Goostree were third for Nathan Mills and Logan Goostree of Nashville, Tenn.

During a break in the action, the 2011 Racking Horse World Grand Champion, Score At Halftime and Jonathan Bellamy were on exhibition to excite the Wednesday night crowd.

Walking Horses, Mares and Geldings (Riders’ Cup), class 136, brought 10 entries to the ring to show their very best as Judge Brent Grider called the gaits in the class.  Trouble On The Line and Gary Edwards made the winning ride in the class for Hannah McCurdy of Piedmont, Ala.  This made the second win for Trouble On The Line as Dr. Tom Morgan rode to the winner’s circle earlier in the week.  Escape From Alcatraz and Steve Dunn were reserve for Larry and Pam Russell of Pontotoc, Miss.  Poker Face and Chad Baucom were third for Clay Mills and Kayla Baucom of Mt Airy and Monroe, N.C.

The night was quickly drawing to a close with only two classes remaining on the schedule.  Class 137 featured the Park Pleasure Walking Stallions, Four-Years and Over (Riders’ Cup).  Six of the 12 on the books took the rail to work as Judge Brent Grider served as Call Judge for the class.  Lined Up At The Ritz and Patrick Thomas, 2012 champions at the Columbia Spring Jubilee and the Money Tree Classic, rode to the top of the class with a unanimous decision of the panel for Cassique Plantation and Fred and Bernie Rowan of Bluemont, Va.  Traveling Dr. Williams and Steve Sanders were reserve for Sonny and Debbie Sanders of Brownsboro, Ala.  Marching Orders and Bobby Kellett were third for Ron Jones, RPC Farms of Greeneville, Tenn.

The final class of the night, class 138, brought the Walking Horses, Stallions (Riders’ Cup) to the track.  Thirteen entries made the gate call to work for Judge Joel Weaver and his staff.  Absolute Proof and John Allan Callaway topped the division for Ricky Young of Boaz, Ala. Sweep Up The Gold and Charlie Green were reserve for Andrew Morrison of Hattiesburg, Miss.  The Golden Sovereign and Tim Smith were third for Evergreen Walking Horse Farm of Shelbyville, Tenn.

With that, the preliminary competition of the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was complete and in the history books at 10:25 p.m.  Starting tomorrow (Thursday), the spotlight will turn and the roses will be ready as Championship competition gets underway and with 12 great classes of competition leading up to the Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship, it will be one great night!