by Sarah Smith


SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Monday evening performance of the 78th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration came to order at 7 p.m. on August 29, 2016. It was a beautiful evening with a nice breeze blowing through the big oval. Announcer Mark Farrar introduced the judging panel of Chris Bobo, Nathan Clark, Ray Gilmer, Sam Sorrell and Leigh Stuart. Official photographer Shane Shiflet continued capturing the magic while Larry Bright entertained on his organ.

The first gate call of the night brought the Owner-Amateur Gentleman Drivers, Fine Harness down the chute. Earning the approval of all five judges was In Ted’s Image with owner Ron Lawrence at the whip. The duo was reserve in the class in 2015 and had wins at the Spring Fun Show and the Red Carpet Show of the South earlier in the year. Reserve honors went to Lined Royal Cash and Dr. Jack Kwok. Lined Royal Cash was a three-time Fine Harness World Champion in 2015 and won at the Columbia Spring Jubilee in June. Third was I’m Ritz And Dangerous and Todd Fisher.

Professional riders on their Walking Mares, Five Years & Over, Canter, a Riders’ Cup class was next on the schedule. Cash’s Good Wife and Jimmy McConnell rode to the blue for Elizabeth Whitney. With this win, they retired the HH “Preach” Fleming Memorial Challenge Trophy. Second went to Busted At Pebble Beach and Justin Harris for Bruce MacDonald. Rounding out the top three was Jose’s Ritzy Hawk and Jeff Green for Evergreen Walking Horse Farm.

Earning their fourth consecutive world championship was Mr. Country Gentleman and Robert Deutsch in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Five-Year-Old Walking Stallions. The team remains undefeated with six wins this year. Popcorn Sutton and Brittany Baum earned the reserve title for Jacob Baum. Paroled From Hardtime and Sister Milligan carried the yellow streamer back to Panama City, Fla.

After seven pre-Celebration wins including the National Trainers’ Show and the Spring Fun Show, Gen’s Star Of Danger ridden by trainer Patrick Thomas made the trip down victory lane in the Classic Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Riders’ Cup. Reserve went to multi-titled Hello I’m Johnny Cash and Sherri Pollack. This team was victorious earlier in the week. Third in the class went to 2016 Reserve World Champions High Headed Lady and Margo Urad for Urad & Blakley.

Next to take a spin around the oval was the A division of the Two-Tear-Old Walking Stallions, Riders’ Cup. Ernest Upton and French Gin celebrated top honors for Tommy McGee and Carol Dickerson. French Gin was victorious at the Mississippi Charity, Spring Fun Show and Christmas In July show before adding this win to his resume. Second went to Lyndon B. Johnson and Danny Burks for Danny Mead. Lyndon B. Johnson earned a TWHBEA National Futurity title in his first career outing on Wednesday night. Rounding out the top three was Pocket Time and Casey Wright for Billy and Debbie Woods.

Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses brought four top entries to the show ring. Exciting with all the awards was BB King’s Jazz and Libby Stephens. BB King’s Jazz has won this class four times and already topped the competition once this week with Jackson Stephens aboard. Top Recruit and Darlene Harris earned the reserve honors. This duo was named world champions and rode out of the novice division on Thursday morning. Parole Watch and Gary Gilmore rounded out the top three.

The B division of the Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions, Riders’ Cup saw a unanimous victory by Jimmy Choo and Jimmy McConnell for Bill and Karen Bean. With this win, Bill and Karen Bean retired the Buddy Kirby, Judy Woodlee and the Ray Baldwin Memorial Challenge Trophies. Jimmy Choo earned blues at Chester County, Woodbury Lions Club and the Gallatin Memorial earlier in the season. Dazed By Black Gin and Rico Bravo picked up the red ribbon for Justin Harney. Harney rode the young talent to a win at the Walking For Cancer Horse Show. Third went to Woodford and Justin Harris for Andrew Morrison.

Up next was the Owner-Amateur Riders in Show Pleasure Walking Horses. After winning two blues early in the season, Santana’s Storm and Richard Mitch are now world champions. Hello, Hello carried Darden Gladney to the reserve world title for Gladney Farms. Jubilee’s Awesome Dream and Ed Cotter carried the yellow streamer back to Rossville, Tenn.

The final section of the Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions, Riders’ Cup World Championship went to Von Miller and Herbert Derickson for Karmen and Reilly Miller. Von Miller had early season wins at the Money Tree Classic and the Red Carpet Show of the South. Reserve acclaim went to Another Mad Money and Rocky McCoy for Ronnie Logsdon. Rounding out the top three was That’s All It Is and Keith Blackburn for the Blackburn & Conner ownership.

Next to the ring were the Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Stallions. Making their way to the winner’s circle with the approval of all five judges was Command On Parole and Sheryl Crawford. This was a repeat win for the team as they were awarded the same title in 2015. Knock Em Ted carried Jannie Chapman to the second place honor. The duo had three early season victories. Third in the class went to the multi-titled Outta Line and owner Kelly Peevy.

Heading from the line up in the Walking Mares 15.2 & Under, Riders’ Cup was A Bit Of Change and Justin Harris for Charles and Dee Yoder. This was the third consecutive year for this team to win this class and therefore retired the Jesse Johnson Green Memorial Challenge Trophy; the first time in 40 years this trophy has been retired. The reserve world championship went to Spicy Hot and Gary Edwards for Stephanie White. Third went to Jazzmine Lady and Winky Groover for Jo Ann Dowell.

Seven of the eight entries listed in the souvenir program answered the gate call to vie for all the honors in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Stallions. It was Ain’t He Grande and Suzanne Moore who made their way to the winner’s circle. In their first season together, this team has had wins at the Mississippi Charity, Gulf Coast Trainers’, Spring Fun Show and the Marshall County Horseman’s Association. Drop A Line and Carrie Benedict earned the red streamer for Benedict, Butler & Teel. This team had wins at Walking For Cancer, Woodbury Lions Club and the Gallatin Memorial. Bill Williams and I’m A Proud American received the third award.

The largest class of the evening brought 14 top entries to the ring in hopes of winning the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings World Championship. The honor went to multi-titled mare, Jose’s Centerfold with Bill Williams aboard. Second went to another multi-titled mare, Conga Line with Courtney Luttrell riding. Earning the third award in the class was I’m Deuce and Miles Irby.

The final class of the evening brought six entries to the ring in hopes of becoming the Walking Stallions, 15.2 & Under, Riders’ Cup World Champion. Earning the approval of all five judges was Mr. Heisman and Brandye Mills. The team is undefeated in 2016 with four previous victories. John Allan Callaway rode Texas Joe Black to the second award for Kathy Zeis. Third went to On The Line and Philip Trimble for Bud and Suzanne Moore.