Posted August 25, 2001

by Carole Hargett

The air was warm and there was a refreshing breeze as the stands filled for the first Friday night of competition in Shelbyville. As tradition dictated, Snow On The Mountain and Bud Seaton presented the colors.

A new record for attendance was set for the night as 15,084 fans passed through the gates. This is the first time attendance has been over 15,000 on the first Friday night. Records were falling left and right; record attendance, record number of classes and a record number of entries.

The youngest riders entered for the first of the two split classes of the evening. Division A of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Geldings, Riders 11 Years and Under began as 17 bright-eyed youngsters answered the gate call for the “ride of their lives”. Twenty-one entries were eligible for the class. The walking horse youth exemplified what showing was all about. The crowd was very vocal in their appreciation of the talent in the ring.

World Grand Champion, This Is It, with new rider Lindsey Landrum aboard, made the winning ride. Landrum and her mount became a team earlier in the year when her family made the acquisition from Blackhawk Farm. This young lady won her first Celebration blue, the first time out. Landrum also captured a blue at the Saddlebred World's Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Ky., in the Walk/Trot 7 and Under Equitation class. She accomplished this feat all in the same week becoming the first juvenile rider in history to win at both shows in the same year. Out Of Cash, winner of the class in 2000, captured the red ribbon honors for owner/rider Aaron Hawkins. Eb’s Final Notice and Jordan Kidd advanced to third place tie after a fifth place finish last year.

Division B was called by Hankins as 18 riders of a possible 20 entered the big oval. Those in attendance cheered for their favorites...and those who had no one to cheer for, cheered anyway. Entering the large arena can sometimes be intimidating for older riders; the youngsters handled their task with expertise beyond their years. Making the memorable victory pass as they claimed the blue was Jerry Maguire and Chelsea Cook of Lewisburg, Tenn. Ceclynn Fielder and My Midnight Caller hit a home run with their reserve tie in this good class. Danielle Collier and Pride’s Smoking Memory made the night memorable when took home the third place tie.

Many well-known trainers entered the ring on their young horses as class 48, Two-Year-Old Walking Geldings, was called by Martin. Twenty-nine high-stepping entries answered the call of the 36 possible. After excusing two riders from the class, everyone took the rail again. After a short time out, the riders lined up to be selected for a workout. Seven numbers parked in and when the judges reviewed the class, seven more entries readied themselves for the task at hand. Careful positioning was important in order to catch the judge’s eye for the championship honors.

The newly crowned world champion two-year-old gelding was Don Rafa. Joe Cotton was up on the Dr. & Mrs. R. Rigual property. Landrum Stables scored a double, taking the reserve tie on They Call Me Sir with David Landrum in the irons. Britt Barnett of Collierville owns the entry. Sanman and Link Webb rode to the hard fought third tie. He is owned by Larry and Pam Russell.

Slowing the pace a bit were the plantation horses. Class 49, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, Specialty, Riders 18 Years and Over, welcomed 21 exhibitors through the gate. There were 40 eligible to compete. Tuck called the class. Lite shod plantation horses are more animated than trail or country pleasure but retain a comfortable glide ride. The smooth, head-shaking gait of the lite shod horse gives the rider a smooth journey while covering ground. In addition to the forward motion, a pleasure mount must always be responsive to the riders’ wishes. Therefore, the judges ask each entry to back up, a requirement of all plantation classes.

Larry Bright entertained the crowd on the organ as the class was tied. He was acknowledged for his contribution to the show.

Russ Keyser and Beam’s Best Bette took the victory ride for owner, Michelle Hodne. This was the second blue on Friday for Beam’s Best Bette. She also has a yellow ribbon to her credit. Reason To Glitter and Erma Kelly carried the reserve award back to Missouri. A Beam Come True returned to add a third place tie to her previous winnings this year.

The Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings, Specialty, Riders 17 Years and Under class was called. Thirty-five entries made their entrance into the arena of the 51 possible. Many of the older youth riders gave been competing for years and they have honed their skills in preparation for future adult competition. As the class lined up, a time out was called for a groom. The judges took this opportunity to review notes and selected four riders to park in. The class rounded the oval as additional selections were designated. One entry asked for and received permission to leave. Fourteen entries returned to the rail, making for another entertaining round of competition. The class reversed after giving their horses a well-deserved breather. Both horse and rider would exit the novice category when the judges cards were marked.

The stands were nearly full at this point and the riders appeared to be in deep thought as they anticipated the outcome. And coming out of the novice division with trophies and the blue ribbon was I’m Cruella DeVill and Adam Johnson for Joel Johnson of Shelbyville, Tenn. This team has been successful all season. They were victorious at Columbia, Gulf Coast Charity, White Pines, and the Children’s Classic. Hot on their trail was Treatability and Zack Zeis to capture the reserve title. Crystal Letterman and Final’s Pusher proved they had what it took by bringing home the yellow ribbon.

Young riders and their ponies entered the class for Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Ponies, 60” and Under, Specialty, Riders 14 Years and Under. Twenty-two of 34 entries presented themselves to call judge Hand. Small in stature only, the ponies proved that good things come in little packages. They flashed their hooves and shook their heads as the riders urged them on. The fierce competition brought the crowd into the class. The cheering rivaled that of the hollering contest held each night between the north, south, east and west ends.

In an across the board unanimous decision, The Skywalk and Seth Stanfill walked away with top honors. Billy Stanfill of Lexington, Tenn., owns the winner. Joel Johnson took Buford Pusher to the reserve champion title, followed by A Bonus From Ritz and Maisie McSwain with the yellow ribbon in hand.

Tuck called the junior horses to the ring for the Four-Year-Old Geldings, class 52. Less than half the entries listed answered the gate call. Those 10 exhibitors took advantage of the smaller class and spaced themselves appropriately. The judges also had a better opportunity to review the three-gaited class. Making the victory pass and accepting the honors was Unforgettable Pusher and Brett Boyd for Charles Gleghorn. The unanimous decision was an added feather in their hat. Link Webb and Gen’s Super Stroke were second for James & Peggy Vernon, followed by I’m General Lee and Knox Blackburn for Liz Hestle-Gassaway of Wartrace.

It was the ladies time to shine. Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares, Specialty highlights the ladies way of walking. Following Martins call, sixteen ladies turned it on as they searched for the road to the winner’s circle.

The culmination of this hard fought class was another blue ribbon for My Jackie O and Margaret Ann Beech for the Ray Beech family of Belfast. Jackie O’s accomplishments are too numerous to list. Enough to say she is several times world grand champion. Sunrise Que Sera Sera and Candi Butler teamed up to carry the reserve award and Major Splash and Sandy Baker were hot on their heels. The top three entries are considered by many to be some of the greatest mares now showing. All in all it was a great class of mares and their ladies.

Class 54, Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Specialty, Amateur Riders 18 Years and Over was called by Hand. Twenty-two of 41 entries answered. One entry asked for and was granted permission to exit the ring during the line up. The blue ribbon and title of world champion go to sweet home Alabama. Judge’s Red Alert and Karen Inman made the victory pass, their second one in two years. Senor Generator and Stuart Gibbs continued their winning ways by tying reserve. Go Boy’s Dark Spirit and Jennifer Pendelton grabbed that third place ribbon.

The second split class of the night was the Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions and it was divided up three ways. Forty-one horses crowded the the big oval for the first workout. The number of entries seeking the path to the title of world champion made the ring appear smaller than it was. Nine numbers were called to park in. In the meantime, a time out was called for a groom. Three riders asked for and received permission to leave. The seventeen selected entries pulled out all the stops in their quest for the coveted three-year-old title. Jimmy McConnell had plenty to boast about with his newly crowned champion, The Black Night Shade. Mr. & Mrs. Tom Waite are the owners. The American General and Larry Edwards sported their reserve red ribbon for Herb Murrath. Skywatch’s Masterpiece and Bill Cantrell carried the yellow ribbon to owner Bill Hill of Knowville, Tenn.

Division B was just as crowded. Hand had work cut out for him as he called the class of 32 entries of 47 listed. Workout became the by-word of the Celebration this year, and workout it was. Nine numbers were initially called and five joined them to make the field of competitors. The riders turned it up a notch and so did the crowd as they roared their approval. Johnny Walker Red returned to the winners circle with Sammy Day in the irons. Johnny Walker Red, owned by the Gary Legate family, is the two-year-old world grand champion from last year. The Ritz and Jason Day made it a family affair as he followed his dad with a reserve tie for Tommy and Nancy Mills. Skywatch’s Motown Magic and Kurt Kovalick made some magic of their own, earning the third place tie.

For the first time in the history of the Celebration, the three-year-old class had a three way split. Division C followed the course of the previous two divisions when a workout was called. Twenty-five entries of 39 listed performed their gaits to Hankins call. One entry asked for permission to leave and it was granted. Four more followed suit. Thirteen remained for work in the class. The goal was clear, the task was set. The riders summoned all their knowledge and skill as they attempted to claim the prize. The horses and riders put on a show for the crowd who “raised the roof” as the stallions hit the running walk.

Link Webb rode the Roger and Patti Hanier entry Chicago to another victory. This time, the world championship trophy and ribbon. He made his mark at the Trainer’s Show in March and has maintained his winning stride since then. Olympic Black Star and Dick Peebles nabbed the red ribbon. Jimmy McConnell and Cut-A-Rug certainly did just that as owner Mary Medina joined in.

Martin had the honor of calling the final class of the evening. Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Specialty drew 22 entries to the gate of the 53 possible. Of course, how else could the evening end without a workout? At 11:45 pm, this good class keep the crowd on the edge of their seats. A time out delayed the class for only a few minutes and it was soon off and running. Thirteen well-known world and national champions vied for the top prize. Dona Griffin and her three time world grand champion, Electrifying, took the class by storm. A Specialist and Susan Gordon, the current specialty world grand champions, did things just right to capture the reserve ribbon. Pusher’s Blackhawk, winner of last year’s class, took the yellow ribbon with owner Jaclyn Smith aboard.