By Mark McGee | Photography by Shane Shiflet 

Christmas really did come in July for Tennessee Walking Horse trainer John Allan Callaway.

The gift was delivered not by Santa Claus, but by Alan Riddley of Shelby, North Carolina, to the Callaway barn in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Master’s Razzle And Jazz was the present and at 16.3 hands high, the dark bay stallion was a little too big to wrap. And like most Christmas gifts, some assembly was required in a short amount of time.

“He is a natural walking horse,” John Allan said. “He has a big motor. He is real laid back. He is a gentle horse. And he is a smart horse.”

“The horse didn’t make it hard for us. He fell into our program pretty easy.”

John Allan’s plan for 2020 was to campaign Border Run for the big stake. They had placed fifth in the World Grand Championship in 2019. But on Feb. 11 Border Run passed away due to complications from colic. John Allan started looking at developing some of the younger horses in the training barn for a possible future run at the World Grand Championship.

“It wasn’t even on my mind to have a stake horse this year until Master’s Razzle And Jazz fell into my lap,” John Allan said. “I guess it was meant to be.” Riddley had watched John Allan in the show ring and thought the two would make a winning team. His assumption proved to be a correct one.

“I like the way John Allan trains horses,” Riddley said. “I thought my horse would fit his training style. John Allan always seems relaxed. He doesn’t get keyed up and excited too much. He could keep my horse relaxed and focused.

“John Allan had been in the stake classes several times and has won several other aged divisions multiple times. I felt he had the experience.”

Riddley was just as impressed with the entire Callaway training crew including John Allan’s younger brother, Bill, and their father, Allan.

“The whole Callaway team is always dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s,” Riddley said. “I felt really good about the support ‘Lurch’ was going to get. It was more of a comprehensive thought, not just about riding the horse.”

Riddley describes Master’s Razzle And Jazz as a horse with a big, long stride with a lot of upper body motion. He also thought “Lurch’s” walking style would complement John Allan’s training.

“He is shaking his head way back and way forward when he strides,” Riddley said. “I felt that fit what John Allan typically tries to do with his horses.” Master’s Razzle And Jazz, is known as “Lurch” around the barn for his large stature, a named inspired by the tall butler in The Addams Family television shows and movies.

Karen, John Allan’s mother, was not surprised how quickly the two became a team. She calls them “gentle giants”.

“It was amazing how he and ‘Lurch’ clicked,” Karen said. “John Allan had a lot of respect for that horse from the very beginning and was really excited about him. He has a special gift for connecting with horses. He is exceptionally talented.”

They won the Marshall County Horseman’s Association Show July 24, their first time in the show ring. From there they headed straight into the Celebration. When the duo entered the ring the first Saturday night in the B division of the Aged Stallions preliminary, they already had the crowd backing them.

“Lurch” had previously been under the guidance of Shelbyville, Tennessee-based trainer Herbert Derickson of 4 The Glory Farm. The Callaways all expressed great respect for Derickson’s skills.

“We have never received a horse trained by Herbert that wasn’t easy for us to follow up on,” Allan said. “’Lurch’ was very responsive to everything we did with him. A lot of times a horse doesn’t respond to change. He responded positively to everything. We are really proud of how he came on.”


John Allan is known for his work ethic. His father saw that early on when John Allan was hanging around the barn as a youngster. He started riding in the show ring at six years of age and became a professional trainer when he was 18.

“John Allan works a lot of horses and he works his horses real consistently,” Allan said. “His horses step off in gear and go right to walking. On a really good horse he has a lot of confidence in the horse. He works a horse like it wants to be worked.

“He has more feel for a horse than anyone I have ever been around. He has really, really good hands. He rode many flat shod horses back years ago and won five or six blues at the Celebration with them. I think that helped him learn a little bit about the attitude of a horse.”

After winning the biggest award in the history of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry John Allan was in the fields two days later cutting hay.

“He is thorough, and he works hard,” Allan said.

“It doesn’t matter what it is. We show a lot of horses. I don’t think he slept more than two hours a night during the Celebration. I have never seen anyone like him.”


Both Riddley and John Allan are still trying to fully realize what the victory means for them.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Riddley said. “It is something I never thought would happen to us. I felt good about it that night, but I had thought it was almost unattainable. It was thrilling to hear our horse’s number called out.

“It is really hard to believe, even several days later. The rest of the night after we won was a blur, but it was a good blur. We are just elated.”

From the time Master’s Razzle And Jazz and John Allan entered the ring to loud applause from the audience, Riddley was certain he had the winning horse.

“He has a lot more game in him than people realize,” Riddley said. “I was talking with John Allan after the show and he told me they could have gone two more rounds. It was just that easy for him.”

As he aged Master’s Razzle And Jazz mellowed.

John Allan credits the relaxed approach of the 11-year-old “Lurch” as one of the main reasons for their success.

“He had real good stamina,” John Allan said.

“You go flat foot walk, running walk and canter and then they strip them down for conformation. It takes a special horse to come back strong in the ring after that.

The second time around the ring you have to really show your horse to separate from the others. When they called for the running walk the second way, I wanted us to leave everything on the table.

“Conformation judging gives you time as a rider to gather yourself. I didn’t have to worry about him wasting his energy. He just stood for conformation like he was in the barn. He was never nervous. My goal was to go back out there and do the same thing I did in the first workout.”

Allan never had a doubt his son would take Master’s Razzle And Jazz to the title“When that horse walked in the ring I never was worried about John Allan because I knew what he could do and I knew what a big heart the horse had,” Allan said. “’Lurch’ is a really good horse. I thought he won it from the time he stepped in the gate.”

John Allan stressed there were six other good horses in the class. He wasn’t sure at times who the crowd was cheering for, but he hoped he was a favorite of the fans. His wife Jada called the moment of truth from the judges “a surreal experience” for all of them.

“When they announced my number, I was excited,”

John Allan said. “It is the goal for all trainers. I think 100 percent they would tell you that.”

Riddley received a rare double thrill when Minor Ordeal and Tyler Baucom won reserve. The Riddley Family co-owns Minor Ordeal with the Mona Dean Family from Raleigh, North Carolina.


Riddley raised Master’s Razzle And Jazz but sold the stallion when it was fi ve. As “Lurch” continued to have success in the show ring, Riddley knew he had to get him back. That time came when “Lurch” was eight.

“I kind of regretted I had sold him,” Riddley said.

“I thought he had the kind of length in his gait and the size and presence to potentially go on and compete in the World Grand Championship. He has a lot of grit and a lot of motor. He is a heavy-made horse. He is very athletic.”

From the first time Riddley saw Master’s Razzle And Jazz in the pasture he knew the colt, already showing signs of his future size, could be something special. Sired by World Grand Champion Master Of Jazz and out of Dazzle Me Dumas, the bloodlines were strong. In fact, Dazzle Me Dumas is also the dam of Epic, this year’s Owner-Amateur Show Pleasure World Grand Champion, owned by Shamrock Farms of Shelbyville and ridden by Meghan Davis.

“When he was a yearling, he had an attitude about him,” Riddley said. “You would go up to put a lead line on him when he was out in the paddock and he would put one of his front paws on your chest. It was like he was saying ‘I am the stuff ’. He has always had a presence about him.

“He was always real curious about things. He would stand around in the pasture with his head held high in the air. He was enormously proud.”


Nothing worthwhile comes easy and Master’s Razzle And Jazz followed a long and winding road to the World Grand Championship. There were changes in trainers and some health issues to overcome. Through it all Riddley, who owns the stallion with his wife, Lorie, remained confident.

“It took about three years to break him,” Riddley said. “I don’t think we showed him when he two. We showed him a few times when he was three.

“In the Celebration he tied third in the Four-YearOld Stake. He had a lot of crowd support then. I remember I thought then he was going to age out into a horse that could compete at the next level.”

It would take another seven years for Master’s Razzle And Jazz to find himself wearing the floral horseshoe as the World Grand Champion.

“He had a few health issues through the years with tendon and ligament strains which would set him back,” Riddley said. “He has had some tough times. We had a few trials to get through.

“Last year he was reserve in the stake (with Herbert Derickson riding) and the first time we had shown him last year was in the preliminary class at the Celebration. He had not been worked other than just dog walking and didn’t start full work until about two weeks before the start of the Celebration.”


With the win John Allan, 42, joined Allan and Bill as World Grand Champion trainers. Allan guided Pride’s Jubilee Encore to the Big Stake win in 2001 for the partnership of Dennis, Pedigo and Terry. Bill captured the 2017 World Grand Championship aboard Gen’s Black Maverick for Lorraine and Keith Rosbury. The Edwards family is the only other father and sons combination to ride to three World Grand Championships – father Carl and sons Larry and Gary.

John Allan had several horses previously earn ribbons in the World Grand Championship in addition to Border Run. He rode Ozone’s Cut Above All to third in 2011 and to fifth in 2012. In 2015 he and Border Run tied for fourth. In 2017 he and Jose’ Cold Chills finished sixth, then in 2018 he directed A Bruce Pearl to third.

Allan, Karen and Bill were sitting in a front row box on the East side of Maverick Arena. Bill said his father was overcome with emotion. Allan called it one of the biggest thrills in his life. Even several days later, his emotions were still strong when recalling the moment.

“Dad was so excited,” Bill said. “He was over the rail before the horse even got out of the lineup. I thought
it was pretty cool my Dad was out in the middle as the horse went by (under the spotlight).

“There was such excitement. It was a blessed event. To have all us sitting together when it happened it was a special moment. Dad had been waiting on this for John Allan for a long time.”

Bill knows first hand what it takes to win the big stake and he thought John Allan did everything right.

“You train and work so hard,” Bill said. “Anything can happen. You have to have a lot of things go right in that class.

“The horse has to have the right spot on the track. He had a great spot on the rail by himself the whole time. It was a really good show for them. It was a pretty neat deal. I am so proud of him and all the work he put into it. John Allan is dedicated to what he does.”

Karen, who also rides in the show ring, finds it hard to put in words what it was like to watch the final class and hear No. 923 called for the spotlight ride.

“I don’t think I could be prouder than to have been able to watch my husband and my two sons win the highest honor they can get and something every trainer dreams about, “Karen said. “It is pretty overwhelming to watch your sons do that. It was exciting. It is a memory you will never forget.

“It has always been family. I am so glad God has blessed our family and we were all healthy and able to be there to witness both our children reach that goal. And it doesn’t mean it is the end for them at all. They are already working for the next one.”