By Sadie Fowler

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — Sunday offered a breath of fresh air with the first Celebration morning free of day classes, but the quality prevailed with the four-year-old stallions taking center stage in the final class among 16 for the evening. 

While anticipation was high for the last class early on Sunday evening, excitement also filled the atmosphere for the first class of the evening, the Lead Line World Grand Championship, which returned to the Sunday evening agenda after a trial run on the Saturday morning schedule last year, which proved to be less popular than the pageantry connected with having the class during the evening session. Eleven riders sporting a variety of disciplines delighted the crowd with smiles and styles and the conclusion of the class also came with smiles and cheers as Charleigh Goldman and Shake’s Little Midnight impressed all five judges across the board for the unanimous win with assistance from handler Beth Lawwell. Receiving their own due share of praise, Lexi Grace Cofer turned in a polished performance for the reserve in the first world grand championship of the evening. 

The Youth Mares and Geldings class came next Sunday evening with yet again 11 entries vying for a chance to make the prestigious pass down victory lane in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Counti Green expertly piloted Dixie Majorette for that coveted victory pass, making a huge jump in the ribbons compared to the horse’s finish last year, for Sister Milligan while Hot Dollar and Riley long were on the money for reserve. 

Numbers and depth of quality were the name of the game Sunday evening, with 21 entries emerging for the third class of the evening, the Amateur Western Country Pleasure, which required a mandatory workout. Seven of those 21 entries already had world grand championship titles going into the class, but when the workout was over and the cards turned in, Slingblade and Kyle Bush topped the fantastic class and wore the big smile and blue ribbon out of the ring for Sherrin Pittman. Diamond At The Ritz and Kimberly Walden shone bright for reserve. 

Seven entries made their way into Maverick Arena next for the Amateur Park Performance Walking Stallions with I’m A Proud American and Bill Williams earning the best prize. So Real and Marian Wright wrapped up the top two with reserve.

The English Trail Pleasure Four and Under featured five entries as the agenda hit mid-point on the relaxed Sunday evening. The evening was perfect weather-wise and the fans among the stands offered their support of the winners by waving “fans” in promotion of the winner, Blacklist, who bested the field of five while Justus Carter had José’s Walking Diva in good order for the reserve finish in the good class.

Last year’s winners Powerstroke’s Evening Star and Sherri Pollack made their presence known as they captured the title in the Amateur Ladies Walking Mares and Geldings class, ahead of reserve champions, An American Threat and Lynn Hickok, who pushed them for the reserve spot. 

The Amateur Novice Youth 6-11 Novice Mares and Geldings class had the stands cheering loudly and getting behind one of their favorites, and there were plenty from which to choose. Titlest’s Grand Slam and John Lawwell put on a show that knocked it out of the park and merited a huge crowd approval, including praise from grandfather Ronal Young who proudly cheered on the new champions. Jumpin’ The Border and Alex Luttrell stood out among the talented crowd of 14 for the reserve. 

The Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure class featured 18 serious contenders and an emotional finish as He’s A Jailbird J.A. and Sherry Bonner celebrated their first Celebration win after a hard-fought class with PGA Masters and Denise Maples keeping it in line for reserve. 

A Bit Of Change and Makena Dempsey shook up the competition in the seven-entry Amateur Youth 15-17 class as Ricky Ricardo and Will Cole maintained their reserve position from last year to exit with the red streamers. 

The evening reached one of its peaks with the Amateur Walking Stallions class, where 12 top teams paired up for their best show … and top they were as eight entries in the class carried with them previous Celebration world titles with riders that win blue ribbons all season long as the industry’s best shows. The class carried on quite a while after a time out was called, but in the end the pretty pair of Lilly Waites-Mobley and Uptight José showcased grace and stamina for the incredible victory while Lester H. Burns and Martin Cox earned the crowd’s approval for reserve in what has been Cox’s comeback season. 

After earning the yellow streamers last year, Legend Of Zelda moved up a couple notches and rode out of the novice division and into the winner’s circle with BJ Campbell in the saddle for the memorable ride in the Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Western Trail Pleasure horses while Nite’s Destiny and Alex Sinden captured a great reserve finish.

The first of two splits in the Amateur Four-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings featured 12 entries who put on their serious game faces for one of several very entertaining classes on Sunday’s agenda with 11 finishing the class after one entry asked to be excused. Lisa Baum knows how to wear a smile and she did so comfortably after the A division of this class riding Hey Good Looking while Diana Cruse sailed into the reserve position aboard Molly Lou Melon.

Amateur Four-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings B division also featured 11 riders in what became another awesome class on the Sunday evening slate. Once again, any number of riders could have taken the blue in this same class at any show all summer long but on this night, Celebration honors went to Nip Of Gin and Detha Yoder who gave her beloved mount a huge hug among hearing her number announced and also learning the cards were unanimous. José’s Tomboy and Kelly Sherman put their best foot forward for a strong reserve finish among the excellent group of amateur pairs.

Honey Badger and LaMar DePoyster earned the winning nod among the fine field of seven in the Amateur Western Trail Pleasure class while Susan Coleman earned a great applause from the crowd for her solid finish aboard Machete, who mirrored the reserve performance from last year. 

Seven seasoned riders entered the ring with their partners for the Elite Amateur Gentleman Walking Mares and Geldings and there was nothing fake about Dr. Jim Baum’s winning ride with Unreal for the win — the win for the fifth year in a row and also in unanimous fashion. Five Star’s Jazzman and Henry Metcalf followed on the winners’ heels for the reserve.

The Sunday night finale featured the Four-Year-Old Stallions and there were four who showed up for the world championship title with Star Of Ritz and Casey Wright lighting up the midnight sky in unanimous fashion for Herb Murrath ahead of reserve champion My Shockwave, guided by the masterful direction of Jimmy McConnell for Bill Bean.