Posted September 1, 2001

by Carole Hargett

Rain was the order of the day on Saturday but nothing dampened the spirits of the people who came to see the "big one". The Celebration stadium seats 28,869. The paid attendance was 29,547. The actual attendance through the turnstiles was 29,113. The Celebration was alive and doing well. All day long the horse sales continued and everyone speculated about the outcome of the night's activities.

Vern Serex ceremoniously called the first championship class of the night to the gate. Owner-Amateur Rigers on Walking Mares or Geldings, Specialty, World Grand Championship was underway to the call of Martin. All 17 entries answered the call. The class made a few round when time out was called for a cast shoe. Larry Bright as usual, entertained the crowd while the farrier did his job. State songs were called and their state song was played as each group cheered.

The judges had a difficult time of it; several world grand champions and world champions were all vying for the title. Sunrise Que Sera Sera and Candi Butler received the judges nod for the title, the roses, and that memorable spotlight ride. They moved up from third last year to the winning spot. Glen and Virgie Crutchfield from Mempis, Tenn. own the mare. Major Splash and Sandy Baker carried the reserve title home to Columbia, Tenn. Major Splash was the world grand champion in 2000. The Keith Baker Family owns the entry. My Jackie O, with Margaret Ann Beech up, rode to the third place tie. The Ray Beech family are the proud owners. The top three entries are considered by many to be the industry' s top mares.

The excitement continued as the Owner-Amateur riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship began. The crowd was more than ready for this class. What can you do with 23 horses, anyone who has been here can tell you the answer. The word is workout. The judges chose twelve horses to remain for further work in the class and all the riders worked hard to present their horses in the best manner possible. The cheering erupted as they made their final running walk and lined up. Hankins put the class through their paces.

John F K's Delight and Sandra Johnson was awarded the tricolor ribbon in a unanimous decision of the judges. She rode for William and Sandra Johnson. Cash's Blackjack and Beverly Burgess claimed the reserve title for Burgess and Harless. Karla Landrum and I'm Splashed collected the third place tie.

All 18 entries advanced to the gate as Carpenter called class 140, the Two-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship. Upon entering the ring, riders were notified that there would be a workout. The lucky number 13 was the number of horses remaining in the class. The flashing hooves, the head-shaking, the intensity of the competition, it was everything a championship class should be.One entry asked to be excused.

Four challenge trophies are awarded in this class, the Claude Crowley Memorial Challenge trophy, the Jimmy Waddell Memorial Challenge trophy, the S.W. Beech Memorial Challenge trophy, and the Ben Howell Challenge trophy. The entry selected as the industry's best two-year-old was The Super Bowl and Joe Cotten for Dr. and Mrs. Rigual. They retired the Claude Crowley and the S.W. Beech Memorial Challenge trophy having won the class twice. The last win was in 1999. Kenneth Lawrence directed Gen's Major Josey Wales to reseve for Mr. and Mrs. Bernie Duncan of Altomonte, Fla. It was a big time tie for Big Time Pusher and Larry Edwards for William and Sandra Johnson.

Eleven entries came down the ramp into the big oval at Hand's call. They were walking for the Walking Mares or Geldings, World Grand Championship. Four challenge trophies accompanied the winnings. If you tried to guess which horse would win by looking at the class sheet, you would be hard pressed to do it. The class was full of quality.

Under the spotlight, it was Gen's Burning Rage and David Landrum for Jeff Mitchell of Lynnville, Tenn. Gen's Burning Rage repeats her win in this class for the second year in a row. She also registered wins at Wartrace and Tony Rice this year. A strong reserve was Magic's Sweet Victory and Ronnie Spears for Poplar Creek Farm, LLC and sweet it was. The color was yellow for Gen's Color Me In and rodney Dick for the Rick Trumble family of Walton, Ky.

Coming in the ring at a flat walk was the Park Pleasure Walking Horse World Grand Championship class of 13 riders and horses. Five listed elected not to show. The proud walking, high-stepping pleasure horses excited the crowd as they worked through all three gaits. There were chestnuts, sorrels, blacks, bays and one spotted entry. Whatever color you want, the Tennessee Walking Horse has it. There is not other breed that can boast of the versatility of this horse.

Armed Red Baron and Howard Hamilton collected the tricolor and made the spotlight ride for owner Charles Lowe. They worked hard this year as they collected wins at Paris, Tenn., Humboldt, Huntingdon, the Cotton Classic and the Trainers' Show. This was also the second world grand championship for Hamilton this year. What a team. Go Boy's Dark Spirit and Jeff Green made a good ride for Lavender, Lavender and Huckaby. That reserve ribbon was flying high as they exited the ring. Mike Anasis and Pride All Right found the third place tie all right as they carried away that title for Roger and Mary Shoupe of Xenia, Ohio.

They're striding long and stepping right as 21 entries presented themselves at Martin's call. Four entries did not show. A workout was called and 14 remained for work in the class. During the line up, temps were taken and the north side was good, the south side was goood, the east was gooood but the west side (those perennial champions) were goooood!

What a spotlight ride for Pushover's My Papa and a delighted Jennifer Gordon. The Gastonia, N.C. entry is owned by Dick & Marilyn Gordon. Watching for the red ribbon, was Watchtower and Robby Biggs for the Robby Biggs family and the Bob Culbreath family of Cottontown, Tenn. It was a nearly perfrect ride for the third place tie for Sandra Hodgson and Dr. Perfect. Hodgson calls Omak, Wa. home.

Twelve of 13 entries were welcomed into the ring by Tuck. Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, World Grand Championship fired up the crowd and at times the roar was deafening. This was walking at it's best, entries were waving those legs and taking those long strides.

Retiring three challenge trophies and wearing the roses for the second time in three years (1999, 2000) was Mister Pushbutton and William Johnson. Waterfall Farms owns the good entry. Pushing through for the reserve was Pushover's Cashflow and Larry Davis for Greystone Group LLC and Larry Davis. Riding boldly and receiving a rousing applause was Push Me Bold and veteran Judy Young. She rode for the Dr. Robert Canon family and Ronal & Judy Young of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Said before, say it again. It all comes down to this. The Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship, to crown "The Champion Walking Horse of the World." Now let the walking begin. The show was held up just a little when an entry threw a shoe in the warm-up ring.

The presentation of the contenders began. Generator's Nat King Cole, Pride's Jubilee Encore, Pushover's Powerstroke, Pride's Shadow Rider, Shout, Generator's Champion, Pusher's Force, Black Vengeance, Pusher's High Voltage, Vigor, and Pushover's Infiniti. Eleven entries answered the call judge Carpenter. The crowd was enthusiastic and boysterous. Pom poms waved, signes were held up and people rose to their feet. Horses were unsaddled and confirmation checked. As the riders remounted, the excitement increased; soon a new champion would be crowned. Five riders were called to park in while the remaining horses took to the rail. Those who had parked in then worked out. That "Flat Walk Boogie" played by Mr. Larry Bright set the pace. Every entry was top notched and the crowd had plenty to yell about. "Now reverse. Show 'em what you got!" That brought everyone to their feet. Can it get any better than this? Oh, Yeah! Time to take the blood pressure medicine, 'cause the final running walk is coming.

Tradition says that the world grand championship walking horse of the world should be crowned under the stars. There was a cloud cover but everyone saw stars, eleven of them.

The horse and the rider who will forever go into history as the champion walking horse of the world 2001, and wearing the roses for the spotlight ride was Pride's Jubilee Encore and Allan Callaway for Dennis, Pedigo and Terry. Reserve in the class was Pushover's Powerstroke and Ronnie Spears for Glen and Virgie Crutchfield of Memphis, Tenn. Riding for third was Shout and Rodney Dick for the Keith Baker family. A truly great end to the 63rd Celebration.