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The Whole Nine Yards and Bill Bobo Make Spotlight Ride as 2003 TWH World Grand Champions

By Melissa R. Stevens

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The final night of the 65th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration brought just what everyone expected...great competition, quality horses and spectacular entertainment. The last night of this year's Celebration began with a fitting tribute to our nation as Bud Seaton and Counterfeit Dollar presented the flag. The Chessman, a vocal group from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., gave lovely performance of our national anthem while the members of a local boy scout troop waved an enormous flag on the grass at the north turn. The traditional start to a night at the Celebration always leaves the crowd feeling patriotic.

The first class of the night, the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares and Geldings World Grand Championship, brought 13 entries to the ring and the first unanimous tie of the evening. Jamie Hankins was the call judge. Gen's Fire & Ice and Susan Gordan were called from the line up to make the first spotlight ride as the 2003 Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares and Geldings World Grand Champions. This talented classic horse was last year's Owner-Amateur Youth 15-17 Champion and Owner-Amateur Youth 12-17 World Grand Champion. Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif., claims ownership of this championship entry. Miracle At The Ritz and Sandra Johnson were the reserve world grand champions in this class for Waterfall Farms of Shelbyville, Tenn. This team has had a busy year taking the blue at this year's Children's Classic, Spring Fun Show, Bethesda and Belfast. The third place ribbon went to Cash Is My Choice and Sharon Lessard for Christian Lessard of Great Falls, Va.

Next up was the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Sixteen entries made their way through the gate for competition. Paul Watlington was the call judge. I'm Silver Too and proud owner/exhibitor David Ranson of Charleston, W.Va., were called to make the victory pass with the tricolor ribbon and the floral horseshoe as this year's Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Champions. They have also won blues this year at the Derby Classic, Columbia Spring Jubilee, Moore County and Belfast. Dr. Cash ridden by Bill Barnett for Windsong Farms of Collierville, Tenn., was named the reserve world grand champion in this class. Dr. Cash took a blue home from the Germantown show this year. Sky Jam and owner/exhibitor Brenda Bramlett of Shelbyville, Tenn., took the yellow streamer.

Twenty hopeful championship contenders entered the gate for the Two-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship. Laura Brandon was the call judge. A time out was called so that a groom could assist one of the entries. The Image Of Ritz and Larry Edwards were called from the line up to receive the tricolor ribbon and the floral horse shoe for the Dan McSwain family of Atlanta, Ga. This world grand championship winner has also won blues this year at the Carrollton, Ga., Horse Show and Bethesda. Expeditor and Knox Blackburn were named the reserve grand champions for Robert Taylor of Brandon, Miss. This proud entry has a blue from the 2003 Moore County Horse Show. The third place tie was awarded to The Ivy League and Jimmy McConnell for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J.

The Plantation Pleasure Lite-Shod Walking Horses with Amateur Riders World Grand Championship featured 15 entries. Mike Carpenter was selected as the call judge. Double Java, ridden by Mac Benham, was chosen unanimously by the five-judge panel to be named the 2003 Plantation Pleasure Lite-Shod Walking Horse World Grand Champion. Mark and Marcy Drummond of Norco, Calif., are the proud owners of this championship entry. Double Java has become a popular entry on the West Coast circuit winning blues at Carousel Horse Show, Desert Classic, California Celebration and the West Coast Trainers Show. The reserve world grand champion in this division was Pusher's Beaming Pride ridden by Jim Nichols for Debbie and Jim Nichols of New Market, Tenn. Pusher's Beaming Pride has taken the blue home from the National Trainers Show and the Spring Fun Show. The third place award was given to Jose Quervo Gold and Bob Lawrence for Lawrence & Hutto of Thomasville, Ga.

The Walking Mares and Geldings World Grand Championship featured 15 entries. Gene Carswell was the call judge. A lengthy time out was called on the second way of the ring so that an entry could have its shoe repaired. Barracuda and Jimmy McConnell were called from the line up as the 2003 Walking Mares and Geldings Word Grand Champions. This talented team has won blues this year from Jackson, Miss., the Spring Fun Show, Germantown, Fayetteville and Byhalia, Miss. Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J., is the proud owner of this year's world grand champion. The reserve honors were awarded to Pushin' That Jazz with Mike Hilley up for Sarah Dunn of Nashville, Tenn. Pushin' That Jazz has been busy this year winning blues at the Gulf Coast Charity, Gallatin, the Spring Fun Show and Wartrace. The Prime Suspect and John Allan Callaway took the third place tie for Terry, Terry, Connors & Hooper of Morristown, Tenn., Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Loudon, Tenn.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship brought 15 entries to the track. Jamie Hankins was selected as the call judge. The unanimous choice of the judges in this class as the 2003 Owner-Amateur Rider on a Four-Year-Old Waking Horse World Grand Champion was Gen's Black Gin with Bill Johnson up for William B. and Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn. The reserve honors were given to He's Wild Eyed & Wicked and Mike Walden for Mike, Amy and Taylor Walden of Ooltewah, Tenn. JFK Again was ridden to the third place tie by Jeanine Gullett for Ronnie Gullett of Duluth, Ga.

Twelve entries made the gate call for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Jubilee's Star Wars was called out as the 2003 world grand champion in this division with owner/exhibitor Daniel Groover of Brentwood, Tenn., in the irons. The reserve choice was Generator's Champion and Caresse Mills for Rusty Hyneman and Caresse Mills and Hy Steppin Farm of Germantown, Tenn. Dr. Perfect and Sandra Hodgson were the recipients of the third place tie for Roger and Sandra Hodgson of Omak, Wash.

Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived as the ten contenders for the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship made their way down the chute and through the gate. Laura Brandon was the call judge. The entire group of competitors received a standing ovation as they entered the ring one at a time. All ten entries took to the track for the first work out. Then they were asked to line up five on each side of the ring, dismount and take their saddles off so that the judges could look at the conformation of the horses. Once the conformation judging was finished, the saddles were put back on and all ten entries were asked to take to the track once again. After they had been put through all of the riggers of competition, the line up was called for. The 2003 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champions, by unanimous vote, The Whole Nine Yards and Bill Bobo, made the spotlight ride around the Celebration oval to the thunderous applause of a huge crowd. This team has won blues at the Trainers Show, Columbia Spring Jubilee and Section A of the Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over preliminary last Saturday night. A close reserve went to The Black Night Shade with Jimmy McConnell up for Tom and Judy Waite of Mitton, Fla. The Black Night Shade and McConnell have been busy; they have won blues at Gallatin, Germantown, Magnolia Classic, Bethesda, Belfast and Section B of the Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over preliminary last Saturday night. The third place award was given to Pushover's Powerstroke and Ronnie Spears for Glen and Virgie Crutchfield of Memphis, Tenn.

The 65th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration ended just as it began, with an excited crowd and a victory ride. The paid attendance for Saturday's show was 29,939 with an unbelievable 29,341 people actually in the stands. The total paid and actual attendance for the 65th Celebration were both record setters. The total actual attendance for the entire show was 161,817 and the total paid attendance was a whopping 242,290! The crowd keeps growing as does the love for the beautiful animal the show celebrates - the Tennessee Walking Horse. With this year's show complete and the 2003 World Grand Champion crowned, the countdown has already begun for next year's Celebration. See you next year!

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