By Mark McGee 

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – Tradition is revered at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and the  82nd edition is no exception. A time-honored tradition is the second Thursday night is special as the start of three nights of world grand vhampionship competition.

The invocation by Ron DeWitt from the First Church of the Nazarene was followed by a wonderful presentation of our National Anthem by Stephanie Nash from Chapel Hill, Tennessee, with Ronnie Spears and flag horse White Diamond Dollar presenting the Stars and Stripes.

Center ring announcer Mark Farrar, Jr. welcomed seven entries into Maverick Arena for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Country Pleasure Walking Horses, Five Years & Under World Grand Championship. Sarah Smith, from Shelbyville, Tennessee, has been riding since childhood. She experienced her first ever world grand championship spotlight ride aboard She’s Never Been Kissed for co-owner S&P LLC from Saratoga, California. The duo was a unanimous selection of the judges. They also teamed with Smith’s first ever world championship in a preliminary class. The reserve champion was Lujoso with Amanda Manis riding for the partnership of Carolyn and Gary Pope and the Justin Manis Family. Zendaya was awarded the yellow ribbon with Bob Lawrence in  the irons for co-owner Carroll Hutto. 

There was another first among the 10 entries in the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Trail Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Leigh Anne Gregory and Knockin’ Boots won their first world grand championship, repeating their preliminary blue, for owners Phyllis Langley from Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Brad Gregory Family from Franklin, Kentucky. Magellan and Alex Johnson landed a second place ribbon for co-owner Anne Evans. Ample Cash Down took home third with Taylor Harvey in the stirrups for Kelli and Jeff Harvey. 

Twenty entries entered the ring, but only 11 were selected for the final workout with call judge Rollie Beard putting the entries through their paces in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses, World Grand Championship class. Making the spotlight ride for the world grand championship was Epic living up to its name with Meghan Davis making the ride for Shamrock Farms of Shelbyville, Tennessee, as the unanimous choice of the judges. This was the second world grand championship ride for Epic and Davis. They won the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship in 2013. Title Sweepstake and Tom Ware were reserve, while He’s A Jailbird J.A. captured a yellow streamer with Sherry Bonner for owner Joe Bertram.

Lined Up At The Ritz, a “Classic Horse”, was the unanimous selection of the judges out of eight entries in the Park Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship with Patrick Thomas making the spotlight ride for owner Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee. It was the third world grand championship for the team having won in 2014 and 2013. Lisa Baum won world grand championships aboard the contender in 2017, 2016 and 2015. The Dixie Doll won reserve with Jeff Laughlin in the saddle for Doris Penick. Papacito tied third with Chris Zahnd riding for Karen Bean. 

Diamond At The Ritz glistened in a field of 16 entries in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Country Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship with Abi Smith riding for co-owner Kimberly Walden, both from Shelbyville, Tennessee. Smith and Diamond At The Ritz also won the world grand championship in the class in 2019. Diamond At The Ritz has won six blues this season with either Smith or Walden in the saddle. Smith will return Saturday night for the “Stars of The Future” showcase. Second in the class First Knight Out with Riley Gregory in the irons for the Brad Gregory Family. Hashtag took home third with Counti Green riding for WhitLei Green.

Mike Hilley was the call judge as 14 entries entered the big oval for the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship class. Extra Special Jose and Emma Wright, from Reagan, Tennessee, made a special spotlight ride as the unanimous choice for the world grand championship, reclaiming the title again. This year they have four blues with Emma riding to three of them for co-owners Gayle and Sammy Cagle from Lexington, Tennessee, including the preliminary class win. Annie’s Lined With Cash and Khloe McSwain were reserve. Dollar’s Silver Collector and Maci Ware earned the yellow streamer for owner Tom Ware.

Six entries competed for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies World Grand Championship as the call judge. Skywalk’s Threat won the world grand championship with Julia Glidewell making the spotlight ride for owners Michelle and Steve Glidewell of Corinth, Mississippi. They have won three blues this year including the Owner-Amateur Walking Ponies-Stallions class earlier in the Celebration. Pappy Van Winkle and Kim Butler were reserve for Bruce Butler. Strike and Lisa Baum tied third.

The Country Lineman unanimously repeated as world grand champion in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Walking Ponies World Grand Championship, this year with new owner Ashtyn Claire Brown. They won the Owner-Amateur Walking Ponies 6-14 class; one of four blues in 2020. Knock Down Drag Out and Luke Callicutt earned reserve for owner John Callicutt. Lined Walkin’ and BiBi Beasley took home a yellow ribbon for Beth Beasley. Leigh Stuart was the call judge for the 11 entries. 

The Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking  Horses World Grand Championship also featured a repeat world grand champion, the unanimous choice of the five-judge panel. Mr. Heisman and Robin MacDonald won the class in 2019 and now add the 2020 Elite Owner-Amateur Ladies on Stallions World Grand Championship title to their undefeated season. A King Thing was directed to second by Bob Adcock, while The Darkest Hour was yellow ribbon winner for Cliff Rivers in the 12 entry class.

Eleven entries answered the call for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Trail Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Luciano and Lindy Holt made their first ever spotlight ride for the world grand championship. Holt, from Franklin, Tennessee, also won the Elite Owner-Amateur Trail Pleasure class Tuesday with Luciano. They have won four blues in an undefeated season. Machete and Susan Coleman tied reserve. Blacklist and Kimberly Walden rode out of the ring with a yellow ribbon for co-owner Perry Walden. 

Sam Sorrell was the call judge for the 15 entries vying for the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Show Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Godfather By Ultra Copy, a “Classic Horse”,  and Alex Luttrell from Alvaton, Kentucky, won the world grand championship in the class for the third consecutive year. The team is unbeaten in 2020 with two blues having won the Owner-Amateur Youth 12-17 Show Pleasure Mares or Geldings preliminary class. Masq Of Jazz was reserve with Cohen Abernathy riding for the partnership of Joy Lester and Lauren Landers. Blues For Santana won third place for owner Tom Ware.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Horses World Grand Championship showcased 13 entries. Do Right was right for rider Dr. Jim Baum on the way to the world grand championship. Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee is the owner. It was their sixth first place tie of 2020 including the Owner-Amateur Park Performance Mares & Geldings class at the Celebration.  Gretzky scored a reserve finish for Allison Thorson. A Touche’ was third for Jannie Chapman.

Four entries were in the ring for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, 15.2 & Under, World Grand Championship. It was small in number but big in their competition level. Marty McFly zoomed to the world grand championship with Janice Fostek riding for Joe Fostek from Roanoke, Virginia. It was a repeat world grand championship for the team having also won in 2019. They have three blues in three shows this year including the Owner-Amateur Riders on 15.2 & Under Stallions class last Thursday night. He’s Made In The USA was reserve with Gayle Holcomb in the saddle for co-owner Nick Master of Encinitas, California. Ty Irby was in the stirrups aboard Gin Toddy for Sue Irby for third. Mark Farrar, Jr. announced to  the crowd that the top three finishers had a combined eight world grand championships and 13 world championships. 

La Patrona and Philip Trimble won the top title in the Lite-Shod Walking Horses World Grand Championship class for the second time. The two also won in 2018. La Patrona, owned by Dale Steinmetz of Louisville, Kentucky, has two blues this year. Mike Hilley served as call judge for the eight entries. Moonshine At Midnight was shining bright in reserve for Patrick Thomas and owner Gladney Farms. Laurie Toone chauffeured The Black Cadillac to a yellow streamer for Allison Thorson.

The highly anticipated Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship closed out the night with a crowd-pleasing performance by 13 quality entries. Mr. Magnifico was magnificent in winning the world grand championship for Judy Case from Madison, Alabama. The crowd favorite from the time they entered the ring, Mr. Magnifico and Derickson were the Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion in 2019. In 2020 they have four blues, including Section B of the Three-Year-Old Stallions class. Justified Honors was ridden to reserve by John Allan Callaway for Lisa Baum. Tua MCF was the third place tie with Tyler Baucom in the saddle for Lorraine and Keith Rosbury..