By Mark McGee

On the premier night of the 83rd annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration perfect weather welcomed fans to watch 12 outstanding classes. 

Every class in the 11-day and 10-night show is important, but the final Saturday has always been waited on with anticipation from fans and participants alike with the crowning of the world grand champion, the highlight of a festive and competitive evening.

As always, the first horse in “The Big Oval” was White Diamond Dollar with Ronnie Spears aboard presenting our country’s flag in a spotlight ride. The invocation was given by Mark Ashley from New Hope Chapel. Vocalist Leah Boyd from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, presented a powerful rendition of our National Anthem.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee were honored prior to the start of the show. Lee welcomed fans to The Celebration. He was given a special award by Jeffrey Howard, a Celebration director and publisher of “The Walking Horse Report”. 

Margaret Eakin, assistant to the announcer for The Celebration and associated with the show for more than 30 years in several capacities, was honored with the “Merit Award” by the Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary.
It was announced the paid attendance showed an eight percent increase over 2020 with 114,647 attending for the 10 nights.

The first class of the night was the Owner-Amateur Three & Under Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship. Six of seven programmed entries made the gate call by ring announcer Mark Farrar. Chris Bobo was the call judge. Patti Pollack and Jose’s Twist Of Gin were unanimously crowned world grand champions by the five-judge panel. Pollack, from Saratoga, California, and Jose’s Twist Of Gin are the back-to-back world grand champions in the class. On the first Thursday morning of The Celebration, they captured the world championship in the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. On the first Wednesday morning B.J. Richards rode Jose’s Twist Of Gin to the world championship in the Three-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. Jose’s Twist Of Gin is undefeated in his showring career for the past two years in both amateur and open competition. Capistrano was ridden to reserve by Kimberly Walden for co-owner Perry Walden. Bombay Sapphire PVF was ridden to third by Kaitlin Rippy for The Andy Rippy Family. 

Fourteen of the 18 entries listed in the program competed for the Open Specialty World Grand Championship. David Sisk called the gaits. Warbird, with Ryan Blackburn in the saddle, made the spotlight ride for Ginger Williams from Reidsville, North Carolina. Warbird has four wins in five shows in 2021 including the Young Trainers on Stallions World Championship Tuesday night. Samsung and Bill Callaway were reserve, while Bill’s brother John Allan directed Nino’s Category  Five to a yellow streamer for Dr. Barbara Moersch.

The Show Pleasure World Grand Championship had perfect attendance with all six expected entries competing. Derek Bonner was the call judge. John Allan Callaway was in the irons as He’s Starbucks rode out with the floral horseshoe and tri-colored ribbon for Bud and Suzanne Moore of Lynnville, Tennessee, as the unanimous pick. Callaway and He’s Starbucks also won the world grand championship class in 2020 in addition to 2017 and 2015. They have blues in three of four shows this show season. Tuesday evening the duo won the world championship in the Show Pleasure Stallions class. Georgia Florida Line and Knox Blackburn were reserve for Bruce and Robin MacDonald, while A Gin To Win and Blaise Broccard left the ring with third place honors for Sherry Roberts. 

Five of six planned entries entered the ring for the Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship. Derek Bonner served as the call judge for the class. David Mast and I’m Thunderstruck N.D.R. were crowned the winners for Wayne and Debbie Simons from Shelbyville, Tennessee. It was the second world grand championship ride for I’m Thunderstruck N.D.R. and the first for Mast. I’m Thunderstruck N.D.R. has top honors in seven classes for 2021. King Mojo and Hannah Myatt were reserve for LaMar DePoyster, while Blacklist carried away a third-place ribbon with Carrie Martin in the saddle for Sherry Kessler. 

For the third class in a row the wheel landed on Derek Bonner as the call judge, this time in the Owner-Amateur Mares & Geldings World Grand Championship. Eleven of 12 listed entries competed. Uptight Jose’ and Bruce MacDonald made the spotlight ride for co-owner Robin MacDonald from Shelbyville, Tennessee. It was the third blue in a row for MacDonald and Uptight Jose’ this show season. They won the world championship in the Elite Owner-Amateur Gentlemen on Mares & Geldings class Sunday night. She’s Limitless was awarded reserve honors with Molly Walters in the saddle for Kelsey Andrews. Zeta and Robert Deutsch placed third.

All four list entries in the Park Performance World Grand Championship were present and accounted for with Chris Bobo calling the class. I’m A Proud American and Michael Wright took home the floral horseshoe and tri-colored  ribbon as the unanimous selection of the judges for Bill Williams from Ripley, Tennessee. They also won the title in 2019. In 2021, they have five blues. Tuesday evening they were named world champions in the Park Performance class. So Real was ridden to reserve by Patrick Thomas for Cynthia and Marian Wright. Waiting On Parole and Macy Woody carried out a yellow streamer for Anne Hunt. 

Eleven of 15 programmed entries answered the gate call for Two-Year-Old World Grand Championship. Broadway Honors and Tyler Baucom made a marquee ride to the title for Keith and Lorraine Rosbury from Bell Buckle, Tennessee. They are unbeaten in five shows this year with a world championship in Division A of the Two-Year-Old Stallions class this past Monday night. Born A Maverick and Bill Callaway won second place for Bob Adcock, while Heads Up Jose was third with Sam Martin riding for David and Libby Doub. 

Call judge David Sisk welcomed 14 of 14 listed entries for the Owner-Amateur Country Pleasure World Grand Championship. Hey Charlene and Amanda Manis made the spotlight ride for the Holt, Manis and Pope partnership of Shelbyville, Tennessee, and Taylorsville, North Carolina. Hey Charlene and Manis won the Country Pleasure Amateur Owned & Trained World Championship the first Wednesday morning of The Celebration. It was the first world grand championship for Manis in her riding career, but it was the second for Hey Charlene this week. Thursday evening, Laci Mathews rode the mare to the tri-color ribbon in the Owner-Amateur Youth Country Pleasure class. Line Item Veto rode to reserve with Rachel Teague aboard for The Bo Teague Family. GiGi’s Majestic and Elysse Bradford rode out with a yellow streamer for The William Bradford Family.

Five of the seven expected entries in the Park Pleasure World Grand Championship were ready to show. Dale Watts served as call judge. A Titleist Masterpiece wore the floral horseshoe and earned the tri-colored ribbon with Patrick Thomas in the saddle for Champion Stables from Longview, Texas. A Titleist Masterpiece has six blues in 2021. Blake Cammack rode A Titleist Masterpiece to the world championship in the Owner-Amateur Western Park Pleasure class the first Thursday of The Celebration. Papacito and Chris Zahnd took home reserve honors for Karen Bean, while He’s A Dixieland Delight was third with Jeff Laughlin riding for Vickie Penick. 

Brent Grider was the call judge with seven of the nine slated entries in the Owner-Amateur Four-Year-Old World Grand Championship answering the gate call. Smoky Mountain Strong and Lexie Stinnett made the spotlight ride for co-owner Jimbo Conner from Sevierville, Tennessee. The duo also won the world grand championship in 2020 in the Three-Year-Old Amateur class and in 2019 in the Two-Year-Old Amateur class. They are undefeated in five shows in 2021 including the Owner-Amateur Four-Year-Old Stallions World Championship the first Friday night of The Celebration. Powerstroked By Jose’ was awarded reserve with owner Sister Milligan aboard. Miss Heavenly Cash placed third with Shelby Sims riding for co-owner Shannon Sims. 

For the second class in a row Brent Grider was the call judge with nine of 10 program entries showing in the Owner-Amateur (Canter) World Grand Championship. The Mason Dixie Line earned the floral horseshoe and tri-color ribbon with Beth Pippin from Huntsville, Alabama, riding. They won the Owner-Amateur Stallions (Canter) World Championship Wednesday night and they are undefeated in six shows this year. Country And Famous placed reserve with Miles Irby in the saddle for Rick and Marla Lovett. Jose’s Beyonce and Jackie Whatley walked out with third.

The Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship featured eight of nine scheduled entries entering the ring under the spotlight in the finale of the evening and the show. David Sisk was the call judge. When all the work was complete, it was John Allan Callaway riding Justified Honors to the ultimate honor in the Tennessee Walking Horse breed for owner Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee. They were the unanimous selection of the five-judge panel. It was a repeat spotlight ride for Callaway who rode Master’s Razzle And Jazz to the 2020 World Grand Championship. He becomes only the eighth rider to win back-to-back world grand championships. Justified Honors and Callaway are four-for-four this year including the Four-Year-Old Stallion (Canter) class Sunday night. Riding to the Reserve World Grand Championship was Mach I with Jimmy McConnell aboard for the Molly Walters Family. Jose’ Revival and Casey Wright won third for Billy and Debbie Woods.