Callaway Wins Title with PGA

by Jeffrey Howard

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – In what has become a fall tradition, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association held their International Grand Championship Performance Walking Horse Show. The 2008 show marked the 30th anniversary of the show, held at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The International marks the beginning of a heavy fall show season of multi-day events and sets the stage for a successful end to the 2008 show season.

Over the three nights and 52 classes, 559 entries answered the gate call. “I am very pleased with the show and couldn’t be happier with how things turned out,” said Show Manager Tommy Hall. “To average almost 11 horses a class is great and I appreciate all of the owners and trainers that chose to show at this year’s International. It also looks like attendance was up over previous years,” concluded Hall.

The entry total of 559 was an increase of 16 entries over the total from 2007. Having the honor of judging the 2008 show were Judy Martin, Steve Hankins and Larry Edwards. The trio was treated to many of the industry’s finest horses and agreed unanimously 19 times or just over 35 percent of the time.

Taking center stage on Saturday night were the stallions competing for the International Grand Champion title. Grabbing top honors in the highly competitive class were PGA and John Allan Callaway. The duo is no stranger to the winner’s circle, however Callaway directed PGA to his first blue ribbon after recently getting the top stallion back in training. PGA won the Two-Year-Old World Grand Championship in 2004 and the Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship in 2005, and then fought injuries for a couple of years and wasn’t able to compete at his top form. It now looks like PGA is back and will be a formidable competitor in 2009 for owner Robby Lanier.

Finishing reserve in the class were The Who and Jimmy McConnell. The Who started the year with a stake win at the Gulf Coast Charity and then switched to amateur competition for much of the year, finishing with a reserve world championship in the Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Stallions Division B and then a third place finish in the Novice World Grand Championship with Molly Walters.

Rounding out the top three were Gen On The Run and Justin Harris. This two-time world grand champion has continued to battle top fields in 2008 and won the Tony Rice Horse Show over the Fourth of July weekend. Gen On The Run’s first year in the aged division showed that he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2009 as well. Owners Michael and Ty Hart were proud of the accomplishments of their stallion and will be looking for big things next year.

This stake class proved what the entire year has proven, starting with the Trainers’ Show in March, and that is top-notch talent in the stake division and proven winners going head-to-head all year long. It has made for an exciting year and the International proves this fall will be no different.

Callaway didn’t stop with just this International Grand Championship win; he also directed the very popular Ozone’s Cut Above All to the Four-Year-Old International Championship. Callaway directed Ozone’s Cut Above All to wins in the preliminary and the championship classes after finishing as the 2008 reserve world grand champion at the Celebration. This talented stallion has never been afraid of competition and regularly battles the top fields in the industry. One thing can be said about Ozone’s Cut Above All, he may not always win but he will give the crowd an exciting performance each and every time he hits the ring.

Rounding out the top four in the class were BeeBee King and Jimmy McConnell, Dumas Dandy and Link Webb and Beau Coup Bucks and Brad Huffman.

Taking top honors in the Three-Year-Old International Grand Championship were Lined Walkin’ and Justin Harris. This talented stallion had a great year in 2008, collecting his fifth blue ribbon at the International, which includes his Three-Year-Old World Championship Division B title at the Celebration. Lined Walkin’ finished third in the Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship.

Sky Miles and Joe Martin finished second in the class with Lebron James and John Allan Callaway finishing third, Joselito and Knox Blackburn finishing fourth and He’s Top Priority and David Landrum rounding out the top five. In all, there were eight entries in the three-year-old class and those eight horses had collected 14 blue ribbons throughout the year.

The Two-Year-Old International Grand Championship went to The Dixie Lineman, the unanimous Amateur Two-Year-Old World Champion and World Grand Champion with Gail Walling. Rodney Dick took over at the International and didn’t miss a beat to win the title unanimously. The win marked the eighth blue ribbon of the year for The Dixie Lineman. The Dixie Lineman claimed the $100,000 Lined With Cash Waterfall incentive by winning at the Celebration.

Finishing second in the class were Jose’s Don Julio and Knox Blackburn, who won the Columbia Spring Jubilee title in June. A Jazz Session and David Landrum were third in the class. A Jazz Session collected three blue ribbons in 2008 prior to the International. Rounding out the top five were He’s Slim Shady and Jimmy McConnell and He’s Black Jack Spirit and Rob Brainerd.

Open competition was great at The International but all trainers took a backseat to five-year-old Nathan Oliver winning the Youth 11 & Under title aboard Major Player. Oliver left to a standing ovation and made everyone’s trip to the show worth the price of admission. The walking horse continues to demonstrate at shows across the country its ability to allow riders of all ages to compete for championships. Is there another breed that can boast a 90-year-old world champion and a month later a five-year-old International champion?

World grand champion equitation rider Amy Nesius continued her winning ways to claim the International Equitation 12-17 Championship. Competition was stiff in the class with Allison Thorson finishing second, Stephanie Smith in third and Alex Bumpus in fourth. All of these ladies won either first or second at this year’s Celebration.

Rounding out the youth championships and claiming the Youth 12-17 Championship title were Ritzey Zone and Lindsey Landrum. Landrum faced tough competition in second place finishers Sanman and Benjamin Bowen, a former world grand champion team, Market Watch and Kasie Caldwell, I’ll Be Good and Rachel Burch and Collector’s Fame and Amy Ann McCormick rounding out the top five.

Amateur competition was just as stiff as ever and titles were hard to come by during the show. Making it look easy though was Suzanne Moore who claimed two titles: the Amateur Show Pleasure Championship aboard Zulu and the Amateur Specialty Championship aboard On The Line. Both horses won their respective qualifiers during the International and Moore claimed a total of four blue ribbons and three reserves at the show. Zulu and Moore also claimed the Amateur Lady Show Pleasure Division A World Championship.

Empire Maker and Cindy Sullivan claimed the International Amateur Grand Championship, collecting their second win of the season in impressive style. Larry Davis and The Blue Diamond collected the reserve honors.

Sensational Premier and Latithia Oran claimed the Ladies Specialty Championship class among stiff competition. This was the ninth blue ribbon of 2009 for Sensational Premier and the second of the International. Finishing reserve in the top class were I’m Packin’ A Pistol and Charlene Gibson. I’m Packing A Pistol and Larry Davis claimed the Amateur Adult Pony class on Thursday night at the International.

Other championships claimed on Saturday night were the Park Performance Specialty Championship by David Landrum and San Juan, who also took owner Eric Lackey to the Amateur Park Performance win earlier in the show. The International Show Pleasure Championship went to Absolutely Flawless and John Allan Callaway. This team also claimed a World Championship at the Celebration.

All in all, the International was a resounding success and showcased many current and former world and world grand champions. Around the South, fall means football season to many, but after this weekend it also means walking horses will play a major role.

Complete class coverage, results and judges’ cards  can be seen by clicking here.