Only 260 Points Separate Weaver and Harris

By Jeffrey Howard

As the 2008 show season winds down this coming weekend with the Walking For The Children show, there is still something to be said about who will wear the crown as 2008 Rider’s Cup Champion.  Joel Weaver is going for a three-peat and maintains a 260 point lead but he won’t be able to take the weekend off with Justin Harris hot on his heels.

The tight competition this late in the year is not something Weaver has had to worry about in his wins in 2006 and 2007.  In 2007 Weaver beat Link Webb by 6,150 points and in 2006 he beat Webb by 4,450.  Webb’s back to back second place finishes followed his win in 2005 by 5,180 points over Knox Blackburn.

But just who might benefit the most this weekend?  That would be the horse show, the Walking For The Children and the charity it supports, Christmas for the Children.  One of the added benefits of the Rider’s Cup program for horse shows and charities is the promotion of higher entries in Rider’s Cup classes at those shows.  Also, the program draws interests from competing trainers who bring additional entries for other classes at those shows.

A total of close to $60,000 will be distributed at the end of the year with almost $5,000 separating first and second place.  Harris has shown an astounding 173 times this year in Rider’s Cup classes with seven classes at this weekend’s show left.  If Harris makes all seven he will have shown in 180 Rider’s Cup classes, second only to Weaver’s 183 in 2005.  Weaver has shown in 166 classes thus far in 2008.

The race is tight for top 10 finishes this year as well.  In fifth place, Charlie Green trails Jimmy McConnell by 750 points.  With the show this weekend in Middle Tennessee, Green stands the chance of jumping McConnell into fourth place if McConnell doesn’t come over from West Tennessee.  Knox Blackburn is in seventh place and only trails Green and fifth place by 640 points.

Each Rider’s Cup class awards 200 points for a first place finish and 100 points for an entry.  With so much on the line this weekend, all eyes will be on the trainers competing for top honors and Judge Buck Williams as he sorts out the entries.

The Rider’s Cup program is a joint venture between the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association and the Walking Horse Report.  The results are available exclusively in the print edition of Walking Horse Report and online at (click here to go directly to standings)

Previous Year’s Winner
2005 – Link Webb
2006 – Joel Weaver
2007 – Joel Weaver