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Title holders abound



By Sadie Fowler

The 79th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration kicked off promptly at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning with the theme of the day being three words: Many World Champions. Classes were large and many of the 10 on the agenda had multiple world and world grand champions in them.

The morning moved swiftly with an enthusiastic crowd and well-filled classes. The highlight of the first morning session — potentially one of the highlights of the entire show if you factor in the amazing records of many of these entries — was the fourth class of the show, Owner-Amateur Riders on English Country Pleasure Walking Horses, which featured 24 entries and 12 of those carried previous world titles with them into the ring. An 11-horse workout pushed competitors into winning-mode with eight world title holders included in that workout; four of those were world grand champions.

“It was an incredible kick-off to the show, highlighted by this mandatory workout,” said Celebration CEO Mike Inman, explaining when there are 24 entries or more a workout is required. 

Allison Thorson of Murfreesboro, Tennessee topped that field with Suiza — capturing the horse’s 23rd world title, followed by Side Lined and Kyndra Myers of Van Buren, Missouri for the Harold Roberts Family. GiGi’s Majestic and Elysse Bradford carried out the yellow streamers with Designer Champagne and Kimberly Walden, winners of this class last year, getting fourth.

“When you have a class like this when there are more world champions showing than ribbons to give that says something,” Inman continued. “The last class of the show featured 23 entries, just one shy of a workout. It was a simply incredible start to the show.”

Eight entries made the call for the eight-horse Model Pleasure Walking Mares class. The judging panel, comprised of Jennifer Bingham, Chris Bobo, Scotty Brooks, David Landrum and Bill Reel, was off to a good start as they tied the first class in unanimous fashion. Announcer Dallas Eubanks called Mystic Jazz and Robert Nelms into the winner’s circle for the first ribbon of the 11-day event with photographer Shane Shiflet capturing the moment on camera. The winning duo had been second in last year’s class.

 

A full house continued in the second class, with 15 entries in the field — Siracha and Jordan Howell of Murfreesboro, Tennessee left the Calsonic arena as the new world champions in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Walking Horses. Interestingly, Siracha is out of the mare Cha Cha Cha, and 10 years ago on this very morning Jordan won this class with her. 

 

The talk of the town leading up to this year’s show has been how the industry is positioned to have one of the best Celebrations in several years. Shows have been strong all summer, and quality has not suffered; the third class of the day echoed that sentiment with all five entries showing in the Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses being world champions. In fact, the winner of the class Top Recruit and Darlene Harris of Chapel Hill, Tennessee became four-time world champions after they topped the field, in front of last year’s winner, 16-time world champion and 10-time world grand champion BB King’s Jazz and Libby Stephens. 

Five classes deep into the hot morning slate, the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Country Pleasure Walking Horses featured another standout entry in a field of 12. Honey I’m Good has known nothing but what it means to be a champion. She started her Celebration career two years ago as a world grand champion in the weanling division and followed up the next year as the world grand champion yearling. Wednesday morning her path to success continued as Kyle Bush guided her to victory.

The top two in the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure have been head-to-head all season and both have many world grand champion titles under their belts. A unanimous decision put Etta James By TJB and Kathy Zeis in the winner’s circle with Allison Thorson, on a high note from her big win just two classes earlier, in reserve aboard Fuego. Fuego had topped this class last year with this year’s winner in the reserve spot last year. 

A world champion last year, Grits In Dixie unanimously won the Western Park Pleasure class with Jeff Laughlin on board for Darrin Sisk of Walterboro, South Carolina. The world champion word of the day continued in the next class, the Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Lite-Shod Walking Horses with four showing — all four with at least one world championship under their belts. 

Making a repeat win from last year, La Patrona, with Dale Steinmetz on board, won the Elite-Owner Amateur on Lite-Shod Walking Horses class, which featured a felt of three world grand champions and five world champions. 

The final two classes of the morning session, which finished in under three hours, were both large with 16 showing in the amateur three-year-old trail pleasure and an impressive 23 in the amateur country pleasure four and under class. Kyndra Myers was off to a great start by morning’s end, following up her earlier reserve finish with the win in the second to last class aboard Granted Parole, a big win for the entry. 

The second largest class of the morning and also the last ended with a unanimous victory for Que Bella and Miles Irby, followed by Hey Charlene and Lindy Holt finishing reserve, The Loose Mongoose and Stephanie Gordon-Roy in third, and Martinis At Seven and Maggie Moore carrying out the white streamers. 

Breaking down the blue ribbon tally by barns, Nelms Training, Joe Fleming Stables, Carrie Martin Training, Finish Line Farms, Main Gait Farm and ThorSport Farm walked away with one blue after the first session; Joe Lester Stables and Myatt Manor topped the tally so far with two blues each for their respective teams. 


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