Fans cheered on Star, the Reserve World Grand Champion of last year's Celebration and this year's National Trainers' Show. They clapped and whistled for Puttin Cash on the Line, who won two stakes classes last year, and they "whooped and hollered" for Jail Time, Folsom Prison Blues and Ultimate Power Stroke.
But only one horse got to walk away with the top honors.
"Folsom Prison Blues!" called the announcer.
The big 5-year-old gray sabino, owned by the Jimmy Smith family and ridden by trainer Rodney Dick, has been bringing home the blues since he was a 2-year-old, from classes that season at the Winnsboro Walking Horse Show in Louisiana and the Neshoba County Classic in Mississippi. He won two classes at the Mississippi Charity Show, including the 3-year-old championship, as well as the 3-year-old class at the Spring Fun Show that year.
That was the same year he was named the 3-year-old World Grand Champion at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
Folsom Prison Blues won five first places in 2010, including the 4-year-old stallion class at the Celebration and the stakes class at the Southern Championship show in Perry, Ga.
His win at the Spring Fun Show was his third this year. The others were at the Mississippi Charity show, where he took first in the Five and Over Stallions 15.2 and Over class and then the stakes class itself.
The judges, Nathan Clark, Brock Tillman and Joel Weaver, gave each horse exactly the same score as the other judges. Moody Star, owned by Wilsene Moody and ridden by Chad Baucom, was named Reserve Champion and Puttin' Cash on the Line, owned by the Tommy Jowers family and ridden by Justin Harris, placed third. Jail
Time, owned by Eddie and Tina Smith and ridden by Edgar Abernathy, was fourth and fifth went to Ultimate Power Stroke, owned by Tom Paschal and ridden by Michael Daniel.
Trainers Jimmy McConnell and John Allan Callaway had the best individual showings over the entire show, riding to the blue three times.
"As a whole, how could you not be pleased with a show like this when you've been where we've been," Celebration CEO Doyle Meadows said in a press release.
2011 marked the first time in three years the event was held inside Calsonic Arena.
"It was good to be back in Calsonic Arena where it was kept cool and we were able to escape the weather on Thursday evening," said Meadows.
"Multi-day shows in the industry are judged by the entries you have and the depth of those entries. This year's three-night Fun Show succeeded in both areas, hosting 457 entries in 2011," the Celebration said. "Whereas that was seven less entries than in 2010, 404 of those entries made the gate call which was an increase from the 395 that answered the gate call in 2010."
With an average of nine entries per class and eight per class answering the gate call, Meadows thanked the trainers that brought those entries.
"We would like to commend the trainers for bringing their best and supporting our show," he said. "I would also like to thank the trainers for bringing compliant horses. The USDA was here for all three days and worked cooperatively with the DQPs from SHOW and inspections were smooth."
However, there were some aspects of the show Meadows said could have been better.
"With all of the positives from our show I would be remiss if I didn't say that I was disappointed in our flat shod entries and our halter entries," he said. "We have worked extremely hard with our schedule to appease the flat shod and halter divisions and it