by Derick Mann
The beginning of the last Saturday night of the Celebration was marked by the entry of the Owner Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship. Thirteen competed for the title as Judge Irby called the class. After a successful performance in their preliminary class, the team of Jubilee’s Star Wars and Daniel Groover made another great ride to capture the top honors in the class. Groover is the owner and resides in Brentwood. Making a good ride to receive a strong reserve was Sunrise Que Sera Sera and Candie Butler. Glen and Virgie Crutchfield are the owners from Memphis, Tennessee. Third was then awarded to My Jackie O’ and Margaret Anne Beech for the Ray Beech family.

Fifteen talented horses and riders took their positions in the ring to wait for the start of the second class of the evening. The Owner Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship was quite an exciting class. Judge Don Milligan was the call judge. Following a brief lineup the winning team of Main Power and Kay Green were called to receive the high honor in the class. Main Power has had quite a Celebration winning one of the Three-Year-Old Stallion World Championships with Joe Cotten and Owner Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallion World Championship with Green. Reserve honors in the fine class were then presented to The Golden Sovereign and Jeanine Gullett for Jim Gullett of Duluth, Georgia. A Black Market Pusher and Ronnie Stanfill took third.

Following a first ever four way split in the stallion preliminaries, the long awaited Two-Year-Old World Grand Championship was ready to get underway. Eighteen young entries vied for the title of Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion. Judge Whitey Whitehead called the class. With such a great caliber of horses competing a workout was called for. Eight were chosen by the judges to park in first as five more would soon join them. Ted Williams and Joe Cotten were crowned Two-Year-Old World Grand Champions after a flawless performance. Owners Dr. Jim and Kay Green were no doubt still celebrating their last victory with Main Power when their two-year-old was awarded the tricolor ribbon. Reserve award went to the popular Ritz’s Diamond Joe and Jamie Bradshaw. Randall and Martha Ferguson are the owners. Third place went to a lethal team, Prime Poison and Herbert Derickson, for Brundige, Carlon and Kidd.

Many of the entries in the Plantation Pleasure Lite Shod Amateur World Grand Championship had already won blues and tricolors at the 2002 Celebration making the class a tough one to win. Judge Rollie Beard was selected as call judge in the class of thirteen. Whether it’s Jim Nichols or Howard Hamilton in the irons, Pusher’s Beaming Pride always gives a great show. This win was his second World Grand Championship in less than a week for owners Jim and Debbie Nichols. Second place in the class was then given to Starstruck By JFK and Clint Dixon. The yellow ribbon was awarded to Jose Quervo Gold and Bob Lawrence.

A super class of Mares and Geldings filled the ring next. The Walking Mare and Gelding World Grand Championship boasted ten outstanding entries. Judge Gilmer called the class. Making a repeat win this year, Gen’s Burning Rage and Larry Edwards were awarded first in the class for the Dan McSwain family. Reserve went to Barracuda and Jimmy McConnell for Bob and Mary Medina. Third was given to Tennessee Gen and John Allan Callaway.

The Owner Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Horses World Grand Championship was next on the Saturday evening lineup. A great class of twenty-one entries made the gate call. Judge Irby was the call judge. A superb performance earned I’m All Fired Up and Betty Corlew the win in the class. The Corlew’s Bowtie Stables owns the talented four-year-old. Reserve honors were then presented to last year’s Amateur Three-Year-Old World Grand Champions, John F.K.’s Delight and Sandra Johnson for William B. and Sandra Johnson. Third place honors were awarded to Cash’s Black Jack and Beverly Burgess Wood.

The Amateur Hackney Harness Pony World Grand Champion Heartland Lilac was exhibited for the enjoyment of the crowd. Kathy Capsuto was the exhibitor of the outstanding champion pony.

One of the greatest saddlebreds of our time, Wild Eyed And Wicked was exhibited next. Wicked, as he is refereed to, won the prestigious Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship last year and the year before. This talented gelding has been shown in the amateur ranks this year after being successful in the Open Five-Gaited divisions. Trainer Dena Lopez exhibited the fine saddlebred around the big oval. His owners are Joe and Sally Jackson.

The Owner Amateur World Grand Championship sported twelve awesome entries. Judge Milligan called the thrilling class as each entry was required to successfully complete the three gaits of the walking horse. After a thorough inspection by the judges the decision was made and Silver Express and Lisa Marbry were called to roll into the winner’s circle. Robert and Lisa Marbry are the owners from Atoka and Shelbyville, Tennessee. Reserve went to Generator’s Champion and Caresse Mills of Germantown. Third was then awarded to Gen’s Major Motion and Beth Sims for the Mike Chiaparri family.

After all the hard work, preparation, time, and effort, it was time to crown the 2002 World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse. This horse would represent the breed and everything it stands for. The competitors were no strangers. Each had made their name known at one night shows throughout the spring and summer. The promoting had been done, the ribbons had been won, and now it all depended on the one performance that would be made at the close of the 2002 Celebration.

As each of the eleven entries made their entrance into the majestic Celebration oval, their loyal fans could be heard voicing the support. The task of calling the class fell upon Judge Whitehead. A workout was of course required in the final class. No entry held anything back as they each made their final bid for the top award in the industry. Then the lights were dimmed and the spotlight began to search for the next World Grand Champion.

Then the back number 2233 was called out and Out On Parole and Steve Dunn had been selected as the 2002 World Grand Champion. A thrilled Randall and Sadie Baskin watched as their winning property made the good ride to receive the roses. The honorable title of Reserve World Grand Champion went to Shout and Rodney Dick for Keith and Sandy Baker. Finishing third in the great class was the team of Seve and Allen Forman for Utermark and Cole.

Both the Celebration and the walking horse industry as a whole proved during these past eleven days that they still knew how to entertain a crowd. Record attendance and great competition along with good sportsmanship and memorable moments defined the 2002 Celebration. It truly was a celebration of the breed and all who participate.