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Watch It Now and Jimmy McConnell W.I.N.

Watch It Now and Jimmy McConnell W.I.N. 2009 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship

By Mark Davis

It’s FINALLY Championship Saturday night in Shelbyville!  After 11 days, it’s been one outstanding Celebration, but all good things must finally come to an end, and such is the case with the 71st Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

Twelve classes of championship competition made up the final evening’s schedule, which would be highlighted by the granddaddy of them all, the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  The question at this point was just whom would be seen in competition tonight.  Last evening, it was announced on the front page of the Walking Horse Report that World Champion Aged Mare, Victoria’s Secret, would appear this evening.  Then, earlier today, owner Bill Harlin and trainer Bill Bobo announced that Aged Stallion World Champion, Div. B, Rowdy Rev, would not appear this evening due to an injury.  Could more surprises await?  We will just have to wait for the evening to unfold for that question to be answered.

The judges for every session of the 71st Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration included Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn. &  Sam Sorrell of Flemingsburg, Ky.

Of course, the evening got underway with the white flag horse, Counterfeit Dollar and World Grand Champion rider Bud Seaton bringing the national colors to the ring.  An addition for tonight, a large American flag was opened up on the south infield by local Boy Scout Troop 370 of Shelbyville, Tenn. The invocation for the evening was given by Rev. Steve Murphree of New Beginnings Baptist Church, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Pamela Greenway Hanes of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Once Bud and Dollar headed back up the hill, it was time to call class 160, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies World Grand Championship.  Eight of the 10 with reservations made their way down from Calsonic Arena to work for their chance at the evening’s first set of roses as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits in the class.  Making that spotlight ride in the class, as Organist Larry Bright played “Maryland, My Maryland” in the background was Sikesville, MD’s own Charlene Gibson and I’m Packin A Pistol.  This team was reserve in the Pony Stallion preliminary on last Saturday evening.  Tony Montana and owner/exhibitor Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn., were reserve in the competitive class.  Olympic Power and Stephanie Gordon of Murfreesboro, Tenn., were third.


Class 161, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship, was up next on the evening’s schedule with 14 of the 19 expected beating the clock and working through the historic gates to work in the class.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge for the class.  Repeating on their 2008 win in this division, My First Dollar and George Ann Pratt  made a stellar performance to return to the winner’s circle tonight with a unanimous decision of the panel for Don Pratt of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.  With this win, the duo retired the Colonel C.W. Daugette, Jr. & Rock-A-Bye Lady Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Judge William S. Russell Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Pushin’ That Jazz and Dalia Smith pulled into the second position riding for Molly & Annabelle Smith of Manchester, Ky.  Bo’s Shania Rose and Brenda Carlon rounded out the top three for Dr. Harv Carlon of Lowell, Mi. & Flat Creek, Tenn.

During a break in the action, Justin Harris was recognized as Walking Horse Trainers’ Association Trainer Of The Year.  WHTA President Link Webb and 2008 Trainer Of The Year Jeff Green made the presentation.

It was time to get in a western frame of mind for class 162, Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship.  Four of the five expected worked the track as Judge Sam Sorrell led the panel in the section.  Topping the class and riding away with the roses with the approval of all five judges was Laurie Toone and Catastrophic riding for Carrier & Toone of Franklin, Ky & Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Ole Red and Russell Keyser were reserve for Russell & Denise Keyser of Wemding, Germany.  Not Dangerous Enough and Evan Morgan were third for Laurie Toone of Bell Buckle, Tenn.

Class 163 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship down the hill to work for large Saturday night crowd.  Twelve of the 17 in the Official Lions Club program beat the clock to have the opportunity to make history under the spotlight tonight.  Judge Rollie Beard led the panel in the class.  Making that memorable ride tonight was He’s Slim Shady and Lee McGartland riding for Mike & Lee McGartland of Ft. Worth, Texas.  This outstanding young stallion by 2004 WGC The Black Night Shade, captured the win in the Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion preliminary with Lee McGartland and the Three-Year-Old Stallion preliminary with trainer Jimmy McConnell up.  The Dixie Lineman and Gail Walling pulled into the second position in the event for McDonald & Walling of Tullahoma & Wartrace, Tenn.  Play Something Country and owner/exhibitor Jeff Smith took home the golden streamers to Greer, S.C.


The pleasure exhibitors were up next on the evening’s agenda in class 164, Owner-Amateur Youth English or Western Trail Pleasure, Riders 6-17 Years, World Grand Championship.  Thirteen of the 14 with reservations made their way to the track as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits in the class.  Making that spotlight ride and taking the roses back to the Buckeye State was Suiza and owner/exhibitor Allison Thorson of Huron, Ohio.  Hallelujah In The Sky and owner/exhibitor Logan Hankins carried the second award back to their Bluegrass State home of Paris, Ky.  She’s Pretty Jazzy and Kaitlyn Rippy rounded out the top three for Paige Bennett & Kaitlyn Rippy of Alvaton, Ky & Greenbriar, Tenn.


The babies of the show ring were up next for the Walking Weanling World Grand Championship with 15 of the 16 on the program making the call to show their stuff for the judges and the crowd as Judge Jamie Bradshaw led the panel in the section.  Walking to the World Grand Championship win was the TWHBEA National Futurity Filly Champion and World Champion Weanling Filly, Miss Cheyenne with Bobby Richards at the lead for Larry Messimer of Concord, N.C.  Out Of The Park and Carlyle Johnson pulled in to pick up the red ribbon for The Dr. Alan Bachert Family of Chesterfield, Mo. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  I Can’t Imagine and Robert Nelms were third for R.L. Neil of Murfreesboro, Tenn.


Moving up to the horses in their first year under saddle, class 166 brought the Two-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship down to the historic Celebration Arena.    Eighteen of the 25 with reservations came down to get the Saturday night crowd excited and that they certainly did.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge in the section.  Receiving overwhelming round of applause and bringing the crowd to their feet, Bingo Time and Mr. Billy Gray were called to the winner’s circle riding for Sandy Shumate of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.    Copperfield and Knox Blackburn were close behind in the second position riding for R Bud Moore of Catherine, Ala.  They Call Me Sampson and Mickey McCormick rounded out the the top three in the outstanding class for Bill & Karen Bean of Tomball, Texas.  Each of the top three won their respective qualifying section (A, B & C) on Monday evening.

Back in the pleasure division, Class 167 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship to the ring with nine of the 10 expected finding their spot on the rail to work for their set of roses as Judge Sam Sorrell called the gaits in the class.  Designing a winning performance to take the honors back out west Utah way was Elegance Of Design and Nancy Lovato riding for Kasidy R. Petty of Riverton, Utah.  Honor My Cash and Debbie Parmer were reserve in the division for Donnie & Debbie Parmer of Elizabethtown, PA.  Gen’s Million Dollar Baby and Jimmy Laughlin pulled in the gold ribbon for 4-J Land and Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.


Class 168 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship to center stage with eight of the 15 on the books beating the clock to for Judge Rollie Beard and his staff.  As Larry Bright played “Georgia On My Mind,” it was the team of 9 Yard Blitz and Laura Cochran riding to the winner’s circle to capture the roses for Tim & Laura Cochran of Chatsworth, Ga.  Arm’s Deal For Real and Debbie Eichler were reserve for Rising Star Ranch, LLC of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Headed back to the Sunshine State, Ozone’s Full Throttle and Lynda Brogdon were third riding for Ben & Dr.Lynda Brogdon of Tallahassee, Fla.

Returning to the pleasure division for one final time for the 71st Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, class 169 featured the Park Pleasure Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  Seven of the eight on the entry sheets worked down from Calsonic Arena to show their very best for Call Judge Jennifer Bingham and her cohorts.  Making that coveted victory pass in the division was Sam Whiskey and Jamey Thompson in the irons for Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif.  David Landrum and Santana’s Coin pulled into the second position for McNeely & Landrum of Blowing Rock , N.C. & Franklin, Tenn.  Generator’s Masquerading and Webby Burch rounded out the top of the class taking the yellow streamers for The Carl Lewis Estate of Bossier City, La.

Class 170 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship (Canter) down to the historic Celebration Arena.  Eight of the 10 with reservations for the final divisional World Grand Championship class of the 2009 Celebration found their spot on the rail to work for the honors under the watchful eye of Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his panel.  After tying reserve in the Amateur Stallion preliminary on Wednesday night, Roll The Gold and Spud Warr made a flawless performance on this evening to capture the gold in the division for Jeanette Warr of Phenix City, Ala.  Ironworks Tin Man and Grant Jones were a popular reserve riding for Ray Jones Trucking, Inc. of Greenville, Ky.  Watch For Glory and Erica Derickson were third for Erica & Maria Derickson of Wartrace, Tenn.

Finally, it was the moment everyone had been waiting for, time for that Big Orange Kubota tractor to come in to prepare the ring for the granddaddy of them all, the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship!

Once the track was ready, it was time for the REAL moment everyone had been waiting for , class 171, the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  The questions of the week of just who would appear would finally be answered.  Bobby Sands informed the Saturday night crowd that eleven entries would be coming to show for us tonight to work for our industry’s highest acclaim.  After each entry was individually introduced by Mr. Sands, it was time to get the work.  Judge Mike Carpenter held the honor of calling the gaits for this final class.  After the first work was complete, the 10 stallions and one mare were asked to line up for confirmation judging.

Once that was complete, Mr. Sands instructed all of the riders to remount and asked the grooms to retire and Call Judge Carpenter asked all of the entries to return to the track for additional work to determine just who would wear the roses tonight.  When the work was finally complete, the spotlight was turned on to search for just who the 2009 World Grand Champion would be and when the spotlight stopped, Bobby Sands called the team of Watch It Now and Jimmy McConnell, 2009 Aged Stallion, Div. A, Reserve World Champions, to the winner’s circle for Waterfall, L.P. of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  This win marked McConnell’s third win in five years with his first ever coming in 2004 with The Black Night Shade, then next in 2007 with Master Of Jazz, preceding this win tonight.  Quite an accomplishment indeed. 

The Reserve World Grand Championship went to the 2009 Aged Mare World Champion, Victoria’s Secret and trainer Gary Edwards riding for The Dan & Keith McSwain Families of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  The Coach and John Allan Callaway, 2009 Aged Stallion, Div A World Champions, rounded out the top three riding for Holland, Kilgore and Barnes of Decatur & Tuscaloosa, Ala. & Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Prior to making the final victory pass, McConnell was asked just what makes the 2009 World Grand Champion, Watch It Now, special and he stated, “He’s a Walking Horse and a Show Horse all in one package.”  Tonight, this stallion, sired by The Skywatch out of a Pride’s Jubilee Star mare proved to be the total package needed to capture the ultimate honors of our industry, the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship.

Then, McConnell and Watch It Now took to the track for that final victory lap and with a cheer from the crowd and a few final snaps of the camera by photographers Jack Greene and Shane Shiflet, the 2009 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was one for the history books. 

It truly was One Great Celebration!

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