Thursday night is the place of honor for the UPHA here at the American Royal. This night features the biggest events of the UPHA’s program. It is the night of all of the Classic National Championships for the three-year-old Saddlebreds and four and under ponies, as well as the UPHA Senior Challenge Cup National Finals. Following the night of young stars is the UPHA Classic Incentive Sale, where the stars of the future are put on display and sold. The winning bidders make themselves eligible for the incentive money, which tonight totals nearly $20,000.
The big winner in the UPHA Fine Harness Classic was literally the biggest one in the ring, as Renaissance Man’s Medici put all of his tall, curvy self on display to take the tricolor round of honor with Steve Wheeler. Owned by Bill and Elizabeth Shatner, Medici is by their Belle Reve’s Renaissance Man and out of a General Steel mare. Shown all this year by Tiffany Wheeler, it was Steve that got the call tonight, as Autumn Hills had two horses to show in this class. Apparently Steve is the go-to man when the money is on the line with this one, as a year ago he picked up a check for nearly $9,000 at Louisville as the ASR Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Futurity World’s Champion. The reserve title was the property of Henry The Second, owner of an absolutely exquisite headset that he comes by honestly. He is by Undulata’s Heir Apparent, the son of Undulata’s Nutcracker and CH An Heir About Her, and out of the Rowlands’ gaited mare, Cara Clara, by CH Caramac. Missy Hughes Smith made this stellar drive for Ever Glades Farm, with Mandy Martin heading her in the line up. Tempt Me was the other half of the Autumn Hills duo. Tiffany Wheeler drove her to the third place prize for Sally Jackson. While this one is by Dorian Wild Temper, she is out of a Belle Reve’s Renaissance Man mare. I’m Still Dreamin’ rounded out the top four with James Nichols driving for Jan Small Beth.
For the first time, there was but one entry in the UPHA Hackney Pony Classic, down from six a year ago. At least in 2010 there were two entries, but alas just one made the trip this time. It was a $5,300 trip for Silver Oak’s Cliquot, which will be plenty to purchase some Veuve Clicquot to celebrate the win for driver Matt Schuckert and owner David Estis. Undefeated in three trips to the ring, Cliquot is by Totally Awesome and out of Cherry Flamingo, a daughter of the great Cherry’s Dream Boy.
The UPHA Park Pleasure Classic was 12 horses deep, with the top call going to Cheers To You and Mike Tunstall. An entry of Ceil and Kenny Wheeler, this bright chestnut filly is by Thundergun and out of Ventura’s Molly Brown, by Roseridge Heir. There is plenty of athleticism in that pedigree, and that’s before pointing out the Will Shriver mare at the second dam slot. She put all that on display tonight with an incredible wheelbase to go with her rocked back headset. Four for four coming into tonight, Super Cooper finished as the Reserve National Champion for John Conatser and owner Tracy Garcia. He is sired by Castle Bravo and out of Strapless, shown to a walk-trot World’s Championship by Ceil Wheeler in 2002. Super Cooper is almost solid chestnut with just two hind white ankles. Two Designed horses were up next in the order of finish, as Bob Brison was third with A Man Of Fashion for Redwing Saddlebred Farm and California Design finished fourth with Tom Thorpe up for Heartland Tradition LLC.
Whether this has ever been done before, it has been done now. Tonight a pony most likely made history, piling on his UPHA Road Pony Classic National Championship from a year ago with a UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Classic National Championship this year. Juan Rios drove Crystal Creek’s Foxnomenal, the entry of Tom Fiedler, to the road pony title last year, but it was Linda Fischer capturing the tricolor tonight for the Majestic Oaks team. Foxnomenal is by CH Dun-Haven Phenomenal, the World’s Grand Champion Harness Pony, and out of Out Foxed ‘Em, by Grand Impression. Reserve National Championship honors in this field of eight went to Reedann’s Carte Blanche and Kathy Capsuto Walker, who looked lovely at the lines, headed up by Geof Dixon. Carte Blanche was also a road pony earlier this year, winning at Shelby County Fair. This one is by Late Nite’s Blank Check and out of I’m Yours, by Truly Yours. Junior Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Reserve World’s Champion Night Voyager finished up in third for Meredithe Steinhauer, another Majestic Oaks team.
Nutcracker swept the top two spots in the UPHA Three-Gaited Classic, with Soquili’s Manolito earning the lion’s share of the prize money for Todd Graham and Emma Nichols. This was the same winning connection that produced last year’s UPHA Three-Gaited Classic National Champion, Callaway’s Thrills & Chills. Manolito is that body-clipped golden chestnut that is only seen at the American Royal. He moves in a very square, true park trot, strong off both ends. He traces his bottom line back to the grand fine harness and walk-trot World’s Champion, Glenview Mandala. He was a winner here a year ago in Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited with Bob Brison up. Also of royal bloodlines is Reserve National Champion St. Nick EGF. The “EGF” stands for Ever Glades Farm, owner and breeder of this chestnut colt. He is by Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of the great World’s Grand Champion An Heir About Her. He was a winner here a year ago in Two-Year-Old Fine Harness with Dr. Alan Raun at the lines. Scott Wendt did the riding for Reedannland tonight. Say Yes To The Dress was third. She has a look reminiscent of CH Glenview’s Excelalante. The reason for this is that she is by Designed and out of a half-sister to Excelalante, Glenview’s Successful. Bob Brison rode her tonight for Redwing Saddlebred Farm. Roselane’s Opry Knight and Jim Lowry earned fourth for Tri-Color Ventures.
Matt Schuckert earned his second National Championship of the night, this one in the UPHA Harness Pony Classic. Best of a field of three was High Society Memories Illusion, a bay daughter of B.R.S. Mark’s Memories and High Society’s Decorated Lady. This is an entry of Shirley Sanislow. Heartland Boy On The Block was reserve for Martha Hoyt and owner Marilou Wilschke. This one is by the great Heartland Equality and out of Heartland Summer Song, a daughter of the incredible producer, New Song.
The UPHA Senior Challenge Cup riders faced off next, showing in their callback for the Top Ten. The Challenge Cup is all about horsemanship, and these young ladies had that in spades tonight. Best of this group was Abigail Mutrux. She had hugs for her horse, Lemon Shake Up WRF, and her trainers, Mark Turner and Lillian Shively. It has been a remarkable journey to this point for young Abby, who exemplifies this National Final with phenomenal skills aboard a horse, whether it is in the Equitation division or Performance. One of the first calls people make for a junior exhibitor catch rider, Abby was born to ride. In her second season out of Academy way back in 2004, she blasted down the chute into Freedom Hall, winning the first of many World’s Championships as the 8-and-Under Walk-and-Trot Equitation World’s Champion and World’s Champion of Champions. It has been accolades on top of accolades since then, as she earned the Senior Equitation Reserve World’s Championship this year, adding that to her NHS Good Hands National Championship from a year ago. She now holds two of the three jewels of that famous Triple Crown of Saddle Seat Equitation, setting up what should be a phenomenal class on Saturday for the USEF Saddle Seat Medal National Championship.
Taylor Newton has certainly made the most of her final junior exhibitor season. Teamed with her longtime teammate CH-EQ A Sweet Sensation, Taylor rides under the direction of Shelley Fisher. Taylor completed a Triple Crown of her own this season, sweeping the Pleasure Equitation National Finals. Reserve in the NHS Good Hands Finals, she was the Reserve National Champion once again tonight. Taylor’s first Louisville was actually Abby’s first Louisville as well, back in 2004. She went on to win the 9-10 Walk-and-Trot Equitation World’s Championship the very next season. She has won a total of nine World’s Championships in her career, including two Junior Equitation World’s Championships. Add to that her five Reserve World’s Championships, and you have a career that anyone would be proud to have. Also in the Top Ten tonight were young Courtney McGinnis, Allison Schuh, Jessica Wuesthofen, Emily Chapman, Juliette Dell, Alexandra Friedrich, Tayler Walters, and Nadine Van Zomeren.
The UPHA Road Pony Classic was a grand affair for Majestic Oaks, as they swept the top three spots. It was the undefeated Born On The Bayou making the trip down victory lane with Maureen Lydon Campbell. An entry of Denise Steinhauer, Born On The Bayou is just a three-year-old, giving her the chance to come back and take a shot at winning it again next year. The Three-Year-Old Road Pony World’s Champion is by Sugarland, himself still a star in the road pony ranks. She is out of Mardi Gras, by Pocket Money. Reserve honors went to Mastercraft’s Red Baron LF and Stan Bodnar. This was a nice debut on the National stage for the entry of George Burgy. By Mastercraft, he is out of Regal’s Star Dust LF. Star Dust is a full sister to a road pony World’s Champion, Regal’s Promoter LF. Juan Rios completed the trifecta with Cocked N Ready for Dr. Chip Pugh.
Tiffany Wheeler put it all together in the UPHA Five-Gaited Classic to bookend the Thursday night session with husband Steve, as they captured the first and last classes of the night. This time, it was a big, brilliant liver chestnut mare putting on a show, as Fox Grape’s Sierra Madre was the top call tonight for Fox Grape Farms. Obviously bred by Fox Grape, Sierra Madre is by Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of Himalaya, shown to multiple Reserve World’s Championships by Dr. Owen Weaver. This one will never leave the Fox Grape fold, as she will show again next year as a junior horse with Tiffany, then go on to be teamed with Owen until the time comes for Sierra Madre to take her late mother’s place in the unbelievable producing broodmare band of Fox Grape Farms. Virgil Helm had a popular youngster in the Reserve National Champion, Moonlight Memories. Virgil always seems to play a role in these young horse classes, as he is top notch with the youngsters. He should know this filly well, as she is by Desert’s Supreme Memories, working in that same high and tight style that brought him his Five-Gaited Stallion World’s Championship. This entry of owner/breeder Roberta Rassieur is out of Tanbark’s Enchanted Evening, by Phi Slama Jama. Bret Day came in smokin’ aboard his Reserve World’s Champion, He’s Born To Lead, finishing third for Kurz Equine Investments. Reedann’s Treasure Our Talk and Scott Wendt rounded out the top four for Peggy Johnston.