Monday night is always an exciting night of classes and this year was no different with three splits of Two-Year-Old Stallions, the Walking Mares 15.2 & Under and the final class of the night, the Walking Stallions 15.2 & Under.
The judges for the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Chris Bobo of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Brent Grider of Columbia, Ky. (Performance & Halter), Carol Smithson of Clarksville, Tenn. (Pleasure), Connie Waldo of Naples, Fla. (Pleasure), and Joel Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Performance & Halter).
The invocation for the evening was given by the Rev. Bobby McGee of Edgemont Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Haley Sorrells of Murfreesboro.
Getting the evening started off right was class 107, Owner-Amateur Gentleman Drivers, Fine Harness. Six of the eight expected made the call to work in the class as Judge Brent Grider called the gaits. It's interesting to note that out of the six, four of the horses were grey in color. Interesting indeed. Driving to the winner's circle for the second consecutive year was the team of Carolina Confederate and Jeffrey McGee at the whip for Laura McGee of Shelbyville. With this win, the team retired the Scott Edwards Memorial Challenge Trophy. Clutch's Power Play and Ben Harrell were reserve in the class for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro. Foolish Dollar and Jack Kwok were third for O & W Moody, LTD of Delaware, Ohio.
The trainers hit the track for the first time of the Monday night session for class 108, Walking Mares, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders' Cup). Six of the 15 expected beat the clock and worked down the hill to show for Judge Joel Weaver and his staff. Making the victory ride was Main Sweetie and Phillip Trimble up for James Vernon of Booneville, Miss. Southern Dollar and Charlie Green were reserve for Bryan Turpen of Melbourne, Ky. Out On Bond and Jerry Collier were third for Harold Malone of Tuscumbia, Ala.
Classic Park Pleasure Walking Horses (Riders' Cup) was up next on the schedule with six of the 15 with reservations taking the rail to show for World Championship acclaim as Judge Connie Waldo called the gaits. Walking to the winner's circle was Double Shot Of Cash and Laurie Toone up for Tamara Hader of Bainbridge, Ga. This was this team's seventh 2012 blue ribbon win. Motown's Title Masterpiece and Steve Sanders were reserve for Sonny and Debbie Sanders of Brownsboro, Ala. I'm Gunpowder And Lead and Charlie Moore were third for Kathy Baker of Lewisburg.
Now, it was time to take a look at the first section of Two-Year-Old Stallions (Riders' Cup), Class 110A. Eleven of the 22 with reservations made the gate call to show and impress as Judge Jennifer Bingham led the panel in the section. Making that impressive performance was Keep Your Cash and Winky Groover riding for Crawford Colts of Carrollton, Ga. This youngster was a winner at the Eagleville Lions Club Horse Show and picked up good reserves at the Petersburg Lions Club Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.'s Red Carpet Show of the South. Ready To Play and John Allan Callaway were reserve for James Griffith and Doug Potter of Alvaton, Ky. Jose's Double Down and Casey Wright rounded out the top three for Billy and Debbie Woods of Lexington.
To give the trainers a little more time in between the Two-Year-Old Stallion splits, the decision was made to show a class between each split, so we move to class 111, Owner-Amateur Riders 50 & Over on Park Pleasure Walking Horses. Nine of the 18 expected worked down the hill to show as Judge Jennifer Bingham led the panel in the class. Capturing the win, even after casting a shoe on the second way, which was capably replaced by Celebration farrier Louie Staton, was Tijuana Tex and Darden Gladney up for Gladney Farms of Minden, La. B B King's Jazz and Libby Stephens pulled into the second position for Stephens and Womack of Grayson, Ky. Santana's Coin and John McNeely accepted the yellow streamers for McNeely, Landrum and Cortner of Blowing Rock, N.C., Franklin and Winchester.
Then, it was time for the evening's edition of the "Steppin' Into Cash" promotion. The prize was $500, sponsored by Peoples Bank of Bedford County. Tonight's winner was Sharon Higginbotham of Lewisburg.
Then, it was time to call class 110B, Two-Year-Old Stallions to the track with nine of the 21 with reservations taking the rail to show off for Judge Chris Bobo and his cohorts. He may be "gold" but his color was blue tonight as Nine Gold and Michael Wright impressed the judges and the crowd to ride to the winner's circle with the approval of all five judges for Bill and Denise McMillian of Saltillo, Miss. This marked this team's fourth 2012 win with previous wins coming at the Germantown Charity Horse Show and the Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show. No Dinero and John Allan Callaway were reserve for Alan Riddley of Kings Mountain, N.C. Jimmer Fredette and Dale Watts were third for Deborah Williams of Argyle, Texas.
Class 112 was up next on the revised schedule for the evening, Owner-Amateur Gentleman Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses. Sixteen of the 22 expected worked down from Calsonic Arena to show for Judge Brent Grider and his colleagues. Headed down victory lane in the large, competitive division was Limestone Lucy and owner/exhibitor Steve Heitmiller of Laguna Beach, Calif. Lucy already picked up one Celebration blue in the open Show Pleasure division with trainer Knox Blackburn. Ironwork's Tin Man and Grant Jones were a popular reserve for Ray Jones Trucking of Greeneville, Ky. Star In The Making and Tyler Baucom accepted the gold streamers for Tyler and Kayla Baucom of Monroe, N.C.
With that, it was time to call for the final section of Two-Year-Old Stallions, class 110C. Thirteen of the 21 programmed entries made the call to work for Judge Nathan Clark and his staff. Making the impressive performance in this section was I'm Bob Marley and Jimmy McConnell up for the Molly Walters family of Rancho Mirage, Calif. A Natural Nine and Todd Smith pulled into the reserve position for Luttrell and Mathews of Alvaton, Ky. and Shelbyville, Tenn. Master Of The Ritz and Brandye Mills were third for Stewart and Trimble of Arab, Ala.
Next, we had the opportunity to enjoy the exhibition of our Equitation World Grand Champion, Allison Thorson of Huron, Ohio, who was crowned earlier today in Calsonic Arena. This was a repeat win for Thorson, as she captured the title in 2011 as well.
With the Two-Year-Old Classes complete, we get back on track and call class 113 to the ring, Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Stallions. Nine of 18 worked down the hill to show their walking ways for Judge Joel Weaver and the good sized Monday Night crowd that remained on hand at 9:45 p.m. Making that sentimental journey down victory lane was Lined With Poison and Lucky Collins up for Don and Lucky Collins of Bell Buckle. John FK's Pusher and Robin McDonald were reserve for Bruce and Robin MacDonald of Atlanta, Ga. Star and owner/exhibitor Wilsene Moody-Kwok of Delaware, Ohio and Shelbyville were third.
The trainers were back for class 114, Walking Mares, 15.2 and Under (Canter) (Riders' Cup) with three of the nine in the official Lions Club program making the gate call to work as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits in the class. Dance All Night and Tim Smith rode away with the win in the division with a unanimous decision of the panel for Rita Hudgens of Franklin. Miss Sharon Stone and Eddie Barclay were reserve for Noel Botsch of Jackson, Mo. Sweepstakes Gypsy Lady and Mickey McCormick were third for Jeannae Patterson of Gulf Hammock, Fla.
Class 115 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Horses to the historic big oval with 12 of the 15 on the books making the call to work as Judge Chris Bobo called the gaits for the division. Making the winning ride was the reigning WGC Park Performance team of The Concealed Weapon and Patti Pollack up for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. This team has become quite the familiar face in this division as they have captured top honors in this class in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011 and now 2012, and they did it this year with a unanimous decision of the panel. Ted Who and Mike Walden pulled in for the red streamers for the Mike Walden family of Chattanooga. Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Hall rounded out the top of the class for Hall and Hall of Smyrna.
Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings, class 116 was up next on the schedule with 16 entries making the gate call to work for Judge Nathan Clark and his staff. Capturing the blue in the division was Victoria's Secret and Maisie McSwain in the irons for Maisie and Mandi McSwain of Gainesville, Ga. This duo had 2012 wins at Edison, Ga. and the Columbia Spring Jubilee and secured this win with a unanimous decision of the panel. A Specialist and Gail Walling were reserve for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma. Country & Famous and Miles Irby were third for Rick and Marla Lovett of Mobile, Ala.
Finally, it was the class that the Monday Night crowd stayed around for, class 117, Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under (Canter) (Riders' Cup). Eleven of the 22 expected worked down from Calsonic Arena to work to impress the judges and the crowd as Judge Brent Grider led the panel in the final class of the night. Riding to the winner's circle was Bee Bee King and Jimmy McConnell up for Rachel Castaldi of Skillman, N.J. With this win, and a previous win in 2008, the team retired the Lottery Memorial Challenge Trophy and The Paul Watlington Memorial Challenge Trophy. Mr. Heisman and Brandye Mills were reserve for Randall and Sadie Baskin of Franklin. A Strong Need For Cash and Michael Wright were third for Jim and Jeanne Roberts of Wildersville. It was one great class and will certainly make for another great Championship come Friday night.
Another night in the record books and a great night it was, but don't worry, the Tuesday night schedule will be just as exciting with the Four-Year-Old Walking Mares, Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Mares and Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Stallions, so make plans to be in Shelbyville and be a part of one great Celebration.