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Athletes Honored With National Champion Titles

by Bob Funkhouser


KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Before going into the winter slowdown season, the Saddlebred/Hackney industry gathered in Kansas City, Mo., and for the fifth time as a team, the American Royal and the United Professional Horsemen’s Association (UPHA) made for great partners in producing a National Championship show.


For the pessimists and those still wanting to compare the American Royal of today with the American Royal of 20 and 30 years ago as far as the audience, no it wasn’t perfect, however, there were many positives for the final jewel in the Saddlebred/Hackney Triple Crown. There were five days and nights of high caliber championships and finals offered in an array of divisions. Granted, some of the campaigners showed like it was November and they would have just as soon been back at home with their shoes pulled, but for the most part trainers, horses, ponies and exhibitors came with their A-games in hopes of National Championship titles.


“When they put the National Champion label on the show it gave people a goal, a reason to go to the Royal again,” said Dr. T.J. Blevins of Bowling Green, Ky. “The real athletes, and there are many in our industry, are the ones who can do it at the end of the year. That’s why people love our horses and ponies, they are so athletic.”


Athletes were abundant and in a good many cases they were abundant in the same class, making for entertaining viewing for the nice sized audiences on Friday and Saturday evenings. Classes like the $50,000 Tom Moore Five-Gaited National Championship, the 13-horse Amateur Five-Gaited National Championship, the 12-entry Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship, the Amateur Park National Championship, the Amateur Road Pony Championship, the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure National Championship and many others like them made this a good show to be a spectator.


More importantly, the UPHA/American Royal, probably more so than any other show, is becoming an entertaining event, not just a horse show. An American Royal Black Tie and Tails Gala was held Saturday evening and that brought out several black tie spectators to Kemper Arena who normally wouldn’t have been there. They got their money’s worth, including a few spills. There was a championship feeling to the weekend’s evening performances from the live music that had been entertaining us all week to the commentary given by announcer Peter Fenton as he walked the line-ups with Judges Steve Crabtree, Ricky Harris and Mike Tunstall.


With a great appreciation of the past, Fenton took time out Saturday night to recognize two legends who were in the house. Donna Moore and Sug Utz were sitting side by side taking all the action in. For those newcomers to the breed, Utz is a Missouri institution who has numerous American Royal championships to his credit. Moore grew up in the area and was a student of Utz’s before she went on to become one of the most influential figures the industry has ever known. It just so happened one of her daughters, Melissa Moore, would go on to win the Tom Moore Five-Gaited National Championship with Twice Charmed to close out the evening and the 2007 show season.


Again, adding to the “entertainment factor” Fenton interviewed Moore in center ring following the presentation of the Tom Moore Memorial Trophy. In a shaken voice, an emotional Melissa Moore acknowledged her mother in the seats and her late father for which the class and trophy is named as well as Jack Magill who developed Twice Charmed. The evening couldn’t have been scripted any better as Melissa’s sister, Melinda, was the first to win the Tom Moore Memorial Trophy last year, making the Moore family two for two and putting a big smile the face of the grand matriarch herself, Donna Moore.


“It was a wonderful way to end the year. I really wanted to win this class because it was named after my dad, and Mom was there watching,” said Moore. “It was a very special class and evening. To have the crowd get behind me and then to see so many of the non-horse spectators stay and watch the victory pass was cool. I think the in-ring interview needs to be done at more shows, as it seems to connect the audience with the participants. I know from my perspective it made it very entertaining.


“Since the UPHA’s involvement the American Royal has picked up again. It used to be a great show and then it declined. The powers at the Royal have done a great job listening to the exhibitors and trainers and fixing their horse show. It’s now a wonderful facility. I’d like to see more people in the stands, but I think they’re trying to make it entertaining and not just your average horse show.”


Many great story lines surfaced at this year’s UPHA/American Royal but the greatest one had nothing to do with National Championships. This story line was far greater as officials, trainers, exhibitors and spectators came together and made a huge statement in support of the ongoing battle against breast cancer.


The brainchild of Saddlebred owner and breast cancer survivor Kayce Bell, Friday evening’s finale, the Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship was the inaugural “Pink Ribbon Class.” Never have we witnessed unity like we did on that Friday night. The Ladies Five-Gaited Championship was the class selected to bring more awareness to the fight against breast cancer and to raise money to be donated to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation, billed as the nation’s largest and most progressive grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists.


On this evening the American Royal Association donated $1 for every person in the audience who was wearing pink and $5 for every exhibitor or show official in center ring who wore pink. Needless to say, Kemper Arena was a sea of pink that night with most of the exhibitors even braiding their horses and ponies in pink ribbon that was donated by Fennell’s. Including individual donations, the Pink Ribbon Class raised $16,216 for the cause.


“I developed breast cancer and had surgery back in September of ’06,” said Kayce Bell. “I received great support from the Saddlebred community and especially my Infinity Stables family who came out and supported me in a Walk for Cures rally. They all wore pink shirts that said ‘Walking for Kayce Bell.’ I loved the energy at that event and thought, ‘Why can’t we do that at a horse show? Why can’t we have a class and call it the Pink Ribbon Class?’


“My first time back in the barn after that I was telling Jimmy [Robertson] about my idea. He was sitting at his desk and never looked up, he just kept listening. When I was finished he got up and said, ‘Uh huh, it needs to be at the American Royal and it needs to be the Ladies Five-Gaited Championship. That needs to be the last class Friday night.’ Then he put me in touch with Ann Rowland and she took it from there. It was truly an amazing experience and I hope to see it grow from here.”


Gayle Lampe and one of Missouri’s favorite sons, CH Callaway’s Born To Win, won the first ever Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship Pink Ribbon Class. For her efforts, Lampe received a custom-made brooch donated by Churchwell’s and exhibitors in the class received a Pink Ribbon lapel pin, also donated by Churchwell’s.


“It was a thrill to be a part of it, starting that morning going around the barns and selling pink balloons,” said Lampe. “We sold balloons anywhere from 25 cents to $100. In the class I was able to celebrate Peggy Webber, a girl I grew up with, and we rode together at Rock Creek as junior exhibitors, and then later were roommates at Stephens. I rode extra hard knowing I was riding for her.


“I hope to be able to look back 10 years from now and enjoy the fact that I was the inaugural winner of a class that is still going. I hope we can keep the awareness. I can’t say enough about how Ann Rowland picked up the ball from Kayce Bell’s great idea and ran with it. She did a fabulous job putting this together.”


“It was so much fun,” added Melissa Moore referring to the Pink Ribbon Class in which she was reserve grand champion with SJ Space Buckaneer. “You could feel the energy in the ring. I think a lot of that could have been that we were riding behind Born To Win. He’s such an incredible horse. It was a great night at the horse show and how cool for everyone to get behind something like this.”


From Tuesday’s opening session all the way through to Saturday night’s Tom Moore Five-Gaited National Championship, there were many exciting elements. On that opening night, Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser (must be a good guy with a name like that) and members of the Missouri UPHA Chapter honored Fern Bittner in center ring as the 2007 American Royal Horseman Of The Year. In addition to being the manager of the American Royal for a number of years, Bittner and her family have played a vital role in the American Saddlebred industry in the state of Missouri and nationwide.


“I was honored,” said Bittner. “The American Royal has long been a part of my life.


“I was pleased with the turnout this year other than the ponies and it was nice to see a decent crowd on the weekend. Saturday night’s audience was into the show. I think the American Royal Gala certainly helped make it a nice crowd and we entertained them with some very nice championships.”


Bittner was certainly right in that the Saddlebred classes were basically full of really nice horses, however, outside of the roadsters and a few pleasure driving classes, the pony division bordered on embarrassing. It didn’t help that a couple of the regular pony barns had circumstances that kept them from coming this year, but boy it should be a wake-up call that the pony business is a couple of barns away from being non-existent. At this rate the cob-tail and long tail divisions will continue to be numerous one and two-pony classes at regional shows around the country and practically the only time they show against anyone is at Midwest, Lexington and Louisville and two of those can be dangerously low on any given year.


Roadsters did carry the pony division as they have for some time, and some of the very best came from Majestic Oaks with Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon at the helm. The Dr. T.J. Blevins family exhibited two of those: Free Willy and Heartland Sundust. One of the most popular ponies showing for sometime now, Free Willy earned his 25th consecutive win. With Georgia Blevins driving, Willy has now won championships at Lexington Junior League, Louisville, Toronto and Kansas City. The icing on the cake for the Blevins family came when daughter Mia Morris drove Heartland Sundust to the Amateur Road Pony National Championship in their last show together, as Sundust has been sold Beth Jones. Free Willy and Heartland Sundust were just two of several National Champions and Classic Grand Champions for the Majestic Oaks team.


Also building quite a legacy in the pony world, Lord Ovation captured the Hackney Pony Championship after winning the UPHA Classic Grand Championship just a few days earlier. Larry Bacon was again driving the current World’s Grand Champion Hackney Pony for Art and Gaye Birtcher.


Dr. Blevins mentioned that the true athletes are the ones who do well at Kansas City and there was an array of superstars on hand. In addition to the outstanding young stars from the Classic Grand Championships, the Kansas City audience was privileged to see many topnotch performances.


Heading that list could be a horse who will surely go down in history as one of the very best of all times, CH Blackberry Delight. In his final two classes, the bold, yet ever so consistent son of Blackberry Winter and Memorable Molly retired from the show ring still on top of his game. With trainer Lynda Freseth on the rail trying to hold it together, “Jim” gave her every reason to be happy/sad as he was as good as it gets in the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure National Championship and the 15-17 qualifier with his jockey of the past three years and last six world’s championships Rachel Machamer


“In all the years I have been associated with Jim, I have never known him to have a bad day,” said trainer Lynda Freseth. “He comes out of his stall with the same enthusiasm as the day before. I sometimes wonder what his mind is thinking as he never drops an ear in our boring arena. Every class is like his first one.


“It has been a privilege to get to train him. He has set the standard for me personally and in my profession. We truly have an understanding of each other. It has been an honor.”


As big as CH Blackberry Delight’s final two wins were, it was just a portion of the type of week Hollow Haven Farm had. CH Callaway’s Pretty Penny and Nancy Anderson captured their sixth consecutive Country Pleasure Driving National Championship while daughter Linda Meyer rode CH The Shadow Knows to his sixth consecutive Adult Country Pleasure National Championship, the second with Meyer. Also in the mix, Andy Freseth completed an undefeated season with the Three-Gaited Park World’s Champion of Champions His Supreme Reflection, winning the Three-Gaited Park National Championship.


Young ladies seemed to be in the spotlight all week long with their athletes. DeLovely’s Callie Smith rose to the occasion as the UPHA Junior Challenge Cup National Champion as well as the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure National Champion. She rode She’s Gone Blonde to the gaited pleasure title. Trained by her mom, Nealia McCracken, Jessica Moctezuma added to her storied and versatile career with the American Royal Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Championship. For the second consecutive year the UPHA Walk and Trot Challenge Cup National Finals honors returned to New England as Maggie McCool captured the title for Cater Stables this year. Speaking of true athletes, Amber Grant was in the spotlight as the UPHA Exceptional Challenge Cup National Champion with her instructor Tom Johnson.


The list of celebrated riders went on as 14-year-old Brittany McGinnis put her name in the history books with her Saddle Seat Equitation Triple Crown. A student of Lillian Shively and Team DeLovely since her walk and trot equitation days, McGinnis became the eighth rider in history to win the Triple Crown, the last one coming in 2003 with fellow DeLovely rider Betty Cox.


“Brittany has worked very hard for this and she has had tremendous support along the way,” said Shively. “I couldn’t be happier for a family than I am for them.”


Not only did McGinnis win the NHS Good Hands Finals at Penn National and then sweep the UPHA Senior Challenge Cup Finals and USEF Medal Finals at the Royal, she also rode Carolina Cat to the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited National Championship, one of the best classes of the show. Just to round out her week in Kansas City, McGinnis rode Ostentatiously to the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Reserve National Championship.


There were two other ladies that had just about the same kind of week. From Carriage Lane Farm, Carol Hillenbrand piloted Swish to his fourth straight Amateur Five-Gaited National Championship. Much like CH Blackberry Delight, Swish never seems to tire nor lose his enthusiasm for the show ring. Moving up from the Reserve National Championship last year, Hillenbrand’s CH Just Special was the Adult Show Pleasure National Champion, a title Hillenbrand has won four times before with the likes of CH High Expectations, CH Reedann’s Phinery, CH Utopian Melody and CH The Bess Yet. As a spectator, Hillenbrand got to enjoy watching trainer John Conatser ride her Callaway’s Cassis to the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited title.


The week before Thanksgiving was also an early Christmas for Misdee Wrigley Miller. She debuted with her newest entry, the current World’s Grand Champion Three-Gaited horse Grande Gil to win the Three-Gaited Over 15.2 Stake and Three-Gaited National Championship under the direction of Larry Hodge and Neil Visser. The powerhouse son of I’m The Prince was a standout in both classes.


“I thought she did a great job for it being only the fourth time she has ridden him,” exclaimed Hodge.


“He was a lot of horse, but so much fun,” said Wrigley Miller following her championship.


To better fit the schedule with Grande Gil, Wrigley Miller showed her Amateur Fine Harness World’s Champion of Champions Castledream in the open championship and the new Fine Harness National Champion responded with one of the best shows of his career.


Stablemate David Rudder also made headlines. Knocking the cobwebs off his riding suit he returned to the ring after a two-year absence without ever missing a beat. The surprising part, however, was that he was aboard Adelita in the three-gaited division. The former World’s Champion Five-Gaited Mare was a sight parading down Kemper Arena’s straightaway as the Amateur Three-Gaited National Champion.


The American Hackney Horse Society (AHHS) Youth Medallion Finals play a big role in the Kansas City schedule. Trying to encourage pony participation at an early age, the Youth Medallion Finals (see separate story) have followed suit with the adult classes as the largest participation remains in the roadster and pleasure divisions.


UPHA Classic Grand Championships paid out over $100,000 dollars in eight classes, four for Saddlebreds three years and under and four for Hackneys four-years-old and under. There was some very tasty talent in those championships (see separate story) with the largest being the 22-horse UPHA Park Pleasure Classic Grand Championship.


Since the UPHA has partnered with the Royal there are many UPHA functions, one being the UPHA Yearling Incentive Sale. Yearlings sold through the Friday morning sale are eligible for added monies if they place in the UPHA Classic Championships their three-year-old year. A good crowd was on hand and it was a decent sale when it was all said and done (see separate news for a complete list of results).


Fern Bittner and technical manager Kent Moeller pulled off another winner with the 2007 edition of the UPHA/American Royal. Unlike any other show, this year was about pageantry, entertainment, fellowship and the crowning of the 2007 National Champions.


Tuesday Morning

As is tradition at the UPHA/American Royal, Tuesday morning was heavily dedicated to the Missouri-Kansas classes in which horses shown must be owned by a resident of one of those states.


The fine harness horses took to the ring first with three entries marching across the fresh green shavings. Mike Roberts won the first blue of the show, driving M.W. Sorenson’s I’m A Lucky Charm to the winner’s circle. Ann Curl teamed up with her CH Harlem’s Proud Mary to earn the red streamers with Bob Brison directing the pair.


Mike Roberts was back in the winner’s circle with a promising start to the week. This time he met Betts Coup and Magikal Marissa as they claimed the Mo-Kan Country Pleasure class for the second year in a row. William Woods University rider, Ashley George, put in a good ride to finish above the rest in a competitive class. She directed Trefethen to the reserve.


The first non-regional class of the show was the Open Hackney Pony class. With several large Hackney barns absent from the show this year, the pony divisions will more than likely be light. Regardless, the two who came in were very competitive. Maureen Lydon drove Sandra Surber’s Heartland Candidate to the blue with Mike Herron handling Dun Haven Radiant Spirit for the reserve.


The open three-gaited horses trotted in for their Missouri-Kansas owners. Topping the group of three were Gregory Haston and Uncle Charlie, carrying the blue back to Diana Ennis. Allyce Truitt maneuvered My Sweet E Motion down the rail for the second place honors.


A class that is always strong at the Royal is the Open Country Western Pleasure class. Current two-time World’s Champion CH Fiasco made the long haul from California with Douglas Glick to jog away with the blue. Candy Hyman rode her Night Spot to a very well deserved second place.


Like mother, like daughter. After supporting her mom’s drive earlier this morning, Jessica Curl mounted up on Callaway’s Jessica Fletcher to capture the win in the Mo-Kan Five-Gaited Show Pleasure class. Bob Brison ran in to greet his team. Janet Thompson paired up with her popular Quidditch to earn the reserve in the seven-horse class.


Two ponies marched in for the Open Harness Pony class. Leg-waving Nacho Mama won the judges’ votes with the elegant Christy Gantley at the lines. Joe Kryzer directed Pam Kryzer’s Heartland Viking to the red ribbon.


The open five-gaited horses charged through the gates for the Missouri-Kansas owned division. Amateur Glenda Pugh bested a large group of professionals and their horses to make a pass down victory lane with her (SA) Studcor Donatello. Mike Benn directed the James Orr-owned entry Love Bite to claim the reserve honors.


Another large class came into the ring for the Mo-Kan Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Show Pleasure class. Putting in a strong ride for the blue was Frances Neunuebel with her Desert’s Supreme Cowboy. Mon P Heir earned the red ribbon with Chelci O’Malley in the saddle for Mary Jo O’Malley.


Whetting the audience’s appetite for the last class of the show was the Will Shriver Open Five-Gaited Stallion class. Only four rode in for the call, but they all kept it a competitive class. Elisabeth Chelberg’s newly acquired (SA) Calif First Night Out might have been the smallest horse of the group but he racked and trotted like he was the biggest. Neil Visser rode the South African-bred stallion for the win. Todd Graham was in the irons on He’s Born To Royalty to take the reserve honors back to owners Mr. and Mrs. Michael Curry.


Bringing the first session of the week to a close was the ASH Breeders’ of Missouri Yearling Sweepstakes. Only three babies were displayed for the judges’ approval. With several wins already on her resume, the Winsdown Hi Octane filly, A Winning Dream, captured the sweepstakes win with Michael Graham on the lead for Myra Roberts Finks. By the pinto stallion, Red Beans ‘N Rice, a son of CH El Cortez, Another Jama Party had something to celebrate when Moses Key led this filly to the reserve ribbon.

Tuesday Night

Kicking off Tuesday night’s schedule was the 14 strong Missouri Breeders’ Challenge Weanling class. All entries must have been sired by stallions whose services were sold at the Missouri Breeders’ Challenge Stallion Service Auction. Taking home the check for $14,400 was Danette Musselman with her homebred Rifles And Roses colt, The Pistol. Simply Phine, by Phi Slama Jama, was led to the second place check of $9,000 by Jesse West for Mike and Jacqueline Wessel.


The first performance class of the night was the Mo-Kan Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited class. Seven competitive entries burst through the gate and showed at their best. Callaway’s Halley Comet and Jessica Curl blazed across the top of all three judges’ cards to take home the blue ribbon. Earning the reserve spot were She’s Poison and Cortney Lynch.


The open roadster ponies hit the gate next with five competing for the top prize. For the second year in a row, Free Willy drove away with the unanimous vote of the judges with Georgia Blevins on the lines. Racing off with the red streamers were Surprize Surprize. Donna Whatley was in the sulky for the drive behind her pony.


With great anticipation and excitement the five-entry Ladies Five-Gaited Mares class came into the ring. Breaking CH Amusing and Amy Rock’s four-year domination of this class, Callaway’s Unsolved Mystery and Tonya Brison made the victory pass for B&T Vonderschmitt. Lisa Strickland put in a in a good performance on Celtic Lass to claim the second place.


A large class of 11 horses made the gate call for the Mo-Kan Open Park class. In another unanimous decision, Chelsie Smith directed Certainly A Star to the winner’s circle for William Woods University. A former William Woods student and now assistant trainer at Virgil Helm Stables, Megan Nicole Harrison rode Memories Alexandria to the reserve honors for Roberta Rassieur.


Six elegant harness mares park-trotted around the arena to the delight of the crowd. And what a class it was with some of the top harness mares in the country coming together. The sharp-eared The Lady Sings The Blues wore the blue ribbon from the ring with Nelson Green on the lines. With a great ovation from the crowd, Mother Mary marched up to the reserve ribbon with Sandy Lilly directing the drive.


The Missouri-Kansas classes continued to fill the Tuesday schedule with the three-gaited show pleasure division making an entrance next. Thirteen entries made the call, giving everyone something to cheer for. Betts Coup made the trip down victory lane with Unanimous Consent, taking the blue back to Mike Roberts Stables. William Woods claimed another top ribbon when Elise Hagenow directed Valhalla’s King Of Hearts to the reserve spot.


The ladies took to the ring again with their gaited geldings. Each one had to ride hard to take a top position on the judges’ cards with several world and national champions competing for the blue. Riding out of a nice group of nine entries and beaming with pride was Ceil Wheeler on her multi-world’s champion CH Walterway’s Remember Me. Second favorite of the judges and crowd was (SA) SJ Space Buckaneer with CH Callaway’s Born To Win and Gayle Lampe picking up the yellow streamer.


The Open Three-Gaited 15.2 and Over Stake only saw three entries march through the gate, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a must see. Misdee Wrigley Miller made a stunning debut on the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Champion Grande Gil. This pair created an elegant picture to earn the top prize for Miller and the Kalarama training team. Jim Lowry pushed them every step of the way on Lace’s Last Tango to carry out the reserve ribbon.


The Open Park class continues to be a popular division with excellent entries. Staying in the theme of unanimous decisions, Andy Freseth guided CH His Supreme Reflection to the winner’s circle for Robert and Marilyn Gaiswinkler. Lisa Strickland handled the reserve ride on the young and expressive Philip Martinelli for Saddlewood Farm. It’s Double O’Deuce claimed the third place ribbon for SGF Winning Ways Farm.


Sixteen made it a crowded class in the adult country pleasure division and riders had to find a good spot in order to be seen. Taking the victory pass for the second year in a row, CH The Shadow Knows and Linda Meyer were pleasure perfection by a unanimous vote of the judges. Carol Hillenbrand was all smiles when she rode her League Of Nations to the red streamer to celebrate her birthday. The Bachelor Prince and Christy Bennett paired up to capture the yellow ribbon.


The Amateur Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under class saw six entries take to the ring. It was another surprise appearance by a well-known team in a new division. David Rudder returned to the show ring after a couple years’ hiatus and guided his world’s champion gaited mare Adelita to the unanimous win. With her mane freshly shaven, Adelita park-trotted down victory lane as if she has been in this division all her life. The multi-titled junior horse, Callaway’s Born With Style gave a great performance with owner Robin McKenzie Vuillermet in the irons to earn the second place honors.


The road horses raced through the gate with five vying for the top ribbon. Decked out in the blue and maroon silks, Melissa Moore streaked down victory lane with the flashy black The Gambler. The red streamers were picked up by Mark Turner who directed Power Ranger to the honors for DeLovely Farm.


Bringing the evening’s session to a close were the open gaited mares. Five talented mares came through the gate ready to show at their best. Catching the attention of all three judges was Twice Charmed with the quickly changed Melissa Moore in the saddle for North Corporate Properties LLC. Picking up the reserve honors were last year’s winners, Pucker Up and Robert Gardner for Jonelle Chovanec Gardner.

Wednesday Morning

The junior exhibitors kicked off the morning session on Wednesday with their five-gaited mounts in the 14 and under division. Seven came through the gate and rode hard for the blue prize. For the third year in a row, Carolina Cat and Brittany McGinnis made an appearance in the winner’s circle, this time with the unanimous decision of the judges. Pushing hard for second were Calee Dillon and Suki Snowlet.


The adults took their turn in the show ring next for the 18-38 show pleasure division. Capturing the second unanimous decision of the day, CH Lightnin’ Lil and Nicole Beltz Tolliver strutted their stuff down victory lane. Amanda Dellinger put in a great ride in the class of 10 on CH My Grande for the reserve honors.


Six answered the gate call for the Amateur Three-Gaited 15.2 and Over class. While not a particularly large class, it was a fine example of some of the country’s best walk-trot horses. John Conatser ran into the winner’s circle to greet Betsy Thomas and her leg-waving New York’s Perfect Gift, making it the third unanimous decision in a row. The elegant bay, Sue She, collected the reserve honors with Ericka Nelson in the saddle for Robert and Marilyn Gaiswinkler. I’m Sky High and Rick Daigle teamed up for the third place ribbon.


The 18-38 adults rode their gaited pleasure horses through the gate with nine entries making an appearance. Each one worked hard for the blue honor, but when everything settled down Travis Van Zetten captured all three of the judges’ top votes and rode Hero’s Jumpin Jack Flash to the winner’s circle. CH Will’s No Doubt About It and Jessica Timmington paired up for the reserve ribbon, with Timmington in the saddle for co-owner Douglas Fiola.


Clark Clouse had a one-two grand slam in the Junior Exhibitor 15-17 Five-Gaited class. Suzanna Crews directed The Decisive Moment to the blue ribbon for Tri Color Saddlebreds in only their second show together. Colonel Hoss and his smart riding jockey Justin Cowley stayed in all the right places to earn the red streamers for Mr. and Mrs. Paul Beachum. Freaky Links and Angela Darrow topped the nice six-horse class to take third.


Five junior harness horses marched into the ring next. Pat McConnell was on the lines of the winning entry, Alicia Silverstone, driving for owner/breeder Margo Baird and MBA Equestrians. The big moving, black mare Open Arms and Bret Day were reserve in the competitive class for Janet Sterba.


Numerous world’s champions park-trotted through the gate, proving to be a very competitive class for the junior exhibitors on their 14 and under three-gaited mounts. It took several good passes to get noticed in this class, and when it was over CH An Heir About Her made the victory pass with Marjorie Townsend in the irons for Everglades Farm. Ostentatiously and Brittany McGinnis were in fine form to earn the reserve honors. That’s Chicago was right up there with the world-class group to take third with Katie Cunningham up for the ride.


Seven top-notched mares trotted and racked around the ring in their amateur gaited class. Capturing all three votes of the judges, Whimsicality made the trip down victory lane with Devon Garone making the catch ride for Robert Grom. The eye-catching Callaway’s Ariel was reserve with an elated Stacey Kipper in the saddle.


A full class of 13 came in for the Junior Exhibitor 17 and Under Five-Gaited Pleasure class. Little but mighty, Callie Smith rode to the top of the crowd on her flaxen She’s Gone Blonde. Sunken Treasure and Drew Taylor Hewitt made their presence known to capture the reserve in a very tough class. CH MmmBop made the show for third with Allie Wellington up for the ride.


It was by unanimous decision again that the winner was named in the Adult Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving class. Stephany Monteleone couldn’t contain her smile when her number was called first. She guided Mastercraft’s Namesake LF to the winner’s circle under the direction of Abel Vega. Anna Marie Knipp and One More Time were well-put together to garner the reserve honors.


The junior park pleasure class brimmed with young talented horses to keep an eye out for in the future. Riding out of the group of 13 entries was the Fox Grape Farm-owned The Final Edition. Jenn Holdren made the winning ride. Smith Lilly directed the fancy chestnut Cat’s My Daddy into second place for Hawley Tool Sales. Callaway’s Cinnamon Bay picked up the third place ribbon with Clark Clouse in the irons.


Another large class hit the ring where each rider had to be at the top of their game in order to just earn a spot on the judges’ cards. Besting a field of 16 in the junior exhibitor 14 and under pleasure division, Tommy James and Loretta Mulberry made the trip down victory lane with Scott and Carol Matton directing. Winnepeg Parks and Kelsey McDonald, up for Penny Eckert, worked hard to capture the reserve title with last year’s winners, CH A Magic Spell and Katie Jarve, picking up third.



CH Desert’s Favorite Memories was a dynamic force in the 39 and Over Five-Gaited Pleasure class. Joan Cantrell rode her horse to the winner’s circle under the direction of Jack Magill. Radio Flyer rode out of the 14-strong group to take second with Alice Sias Pippin up for the ride. Linda Beltz took command to garner the third place ribbon with Champagne’s Irish Sea.


Jackie De La Parte made the trip from Florida well worth it when she guided her Keeper Of The Stars to the winner’s circle in the Junior Exhibitor 15-17 Three-Gaited class. Don Judd and Maria Gilman instructed the winning pair. Emily Scharpf and (SA) Nelmar Tango 4 Ever were sharp to collect the second place ribbon, besting a good class of seven.


Maintaining her world’s champion form, Our Charming Lady charmed the judges once again to claim the unanimous win in the Ladies Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under class. Mary Marcum Orr was in the saddle for owners Jack and Donna Finch. The elegant (SA) The Smart Lady turned in a beautiful show with Melissa Moore up, earning the reserve honors for John Bulmer.


Closing out the morning performance was the Junior Exhibitor 15-17 Show Pleasure class. Keeping in the tradition of large pleasure classes this week, 16 riders entered the ring. But even with the great number of horses, the judges all agreed on one winner, CH Blackberry Delight and Rachel Machamer. Former barnmate CH Ninety-Eight Degrees picked up the reserve under the guidance of Katherine Randall with trainers Joe Elam and Julie Kaufman instructing from the rail. Rounding out the top three places in a highly competitive class were The Grand Master with Thea Irvin up for the ride.

Wednesday Evening

Only two started the evening in the Ladies Fine Harness class. Lady Vol carried away the blue ribbon with Chris Kaplan on the lines. Harlem’s Proud Mary and Ann Curl earned the reserve with a nice performance.


Next in the ring was the UPHA Junior Challenge Cup National Championship. (see separate story)


One entered the ring for the Amateur Roadster Horse to Bike class. Judy McNeish put on a great exhibition with her speedster Thunderbolt.


The Open Park Pleasure class called 14 into the ring. In such a large class it took some great passes to stand out. Earning the majority of the judges’ attention were Top Beat and Marc Holm for Meadowood Farm. Darrell Case captured the reserve spot on Riders On The Storm for Gene and Mary Russell and Willowbank Farm. Rounding out the top three was the team of Molly O’Connor and The King’s Reflection.


Mia Blevins Morris and Heartland Sundust teamed up to claim the Amateur Road Pony class with their blue and red silks flying. Earning the reserve spot was Calvin Hobbs with Kevin Ingram driving under the direction of Hollow Haven.


Five exciting walk-trot horses marched into the ring for the Open Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under class. By another unanimous decision Todd Miles made the victory pass on Thunder Cloud Nine for Olen and Linda Wilford. Rob Byers rode the striking Lemon Shake Up to earn the reserve ribbon.


Carol Hillenbrand returned to the winner’s circle with her white-trimmed CH Just Special. John Conatser met his team to pin the unanimous Adult 39 and Over Three-Gaited Show Pleasure blue. Kim Langdon guided The Muffin Man into the reserve spot, topping out a nice class of 10.


The Stallion/Gelding Fine Harness class was light with only three entries. Peter Palmer directed the Anne Holmes entry Walterway’s Illegal Material to the blue. Jay Wood earned the second place ribbon with Oban for Samantha Conlin.


The amateurs and junior exhibitors rode their gaited horses into the ring for the Missouri-Kansas class. Besting a good group of seven was Rachel Kufeldt riding Heir’s Sugar And Spice WRF for owner Carol Mandernach. Callaway’s Smooth Sailing was called up next with Katherine Abraham riding.


Deborah Jahn turned in a stunning performance with her Heartland Alluring to earn the Amateur Hackney Pony title. Dr. Alan Raun directed this team to the winner’s circle. Unequal and Anna Marie Knipp carried out the red streamers with Jimmy Miller meeting them at the gate.


The ladies took to the ring for their Three-Gaited 15.2 and Over class. Christy Bennett and her multi-titled teammate CH Callaway’s Merry Go Round were picture perfect to hang the blue on the Kalarama Farm banner. The recently trimmed Finest Material was directed to the reserve prize by Melissa Moore for owner Larry Nunley.


Judy McNeish returned to the ring uncontested in the Open Roadster to Wagon class. She put on a nice show with the speedy black Invincible Summer, claiming the title for the fourth year in a row.


Ten stormed through the gate for the Amateur Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding class. Carol Hillenbrand made it two years in a row with CH Swish, earning the unanimous win once again. Laurel Nelson jockeyed Catamaran into some good positions to take away the reserve title. Misdee Wrigley Miller and her sticking bay Lakeview’s Rare-A-Phi rounded out the top three.


After an earlier win this afternoon, Stephany Monteleone put in another great drive with her amateur harness pony Delightful Time to hang the blue on the John Shea Stables banner. Minute Maide marched up for the second place ribbon with Christy Weaver Gantley on the lines.


Wrapping up the evening’s session were the five-gaited geldings. Seven entries filled the ring and put on a show that entertained everyone. With great pass after great pass, the judges decided to put Clark Clouse and Memories’ Paragon in the winner’s circle. Kenny and Ceil Wheeler are the owners of this champion. The always-expressive Courageous Lord racked away with the reserve prize. Mike Barlow exhibited the gelding for Bill Carrington and Marsha Shepard. Bravo Blue and Virgil Helm had their own cheering section, earning the third place for co-owner TNT Investment Enterprises.

Thursday Morning

The Senior UPHA Challenge Cup and Exceptional Challenge Cup preliminaries took place bright and early this morning. Opening the performance section was the two horse Country Pleasure Driving 38 and Under class. Samantha Conlin directed Tantara’s Battle Of Kings to the blue with Stacey Kipper and Caballero Memories following in reserve for Martin Cockriel.


Sing My Song sang the perfect tune to capture the Junior Exhibitor 14 and Under County Pleasure honors with Kristen Smith in the saddle for the victory pass. Hometown Commander proved that he was just as good under saddle as in harness claimed the second place ribbon with Brianna Meyer making the ride.


Only two came through the gate for the Roadster Under Saddle class. All three judges agreed on the winner and Melissa Moore jockeyed Where Are We Now to the blue for Aurora Farms. Lana Gilpin directed Meadow Demon to the reserve streamers.


Fourteen driving horses made it a tight fit in Kemper Arena for the 39 and over country pleasure class. But despite the lack of space, CH Callaway’s Pretty Penny managed to find all the right spots. Nancy Anderson directed her bay mare to their sixth consecutive title in this class. Mary Marcum Orr coached her mom, Debbie Marcum, to the reserve honors with CH Dr. Decker.


It was another small class of two in the Junior Exhibitor Western Pleasure class. Jessica Moctezuma won this class last year on CH A Magic Surprise. This year she guided Pachelbel’s Canon to the blue for her mother, Nealia McCracken, with all three judges in agreement. Charming Promises and Joetta Smith jogged over to collect the red streamers.


The first of the Mo-Kan championships was next with the show pleasure horses taking to the ring. Originally a combined championship, it was split at the last minute into an adult and junior exhibitor division. Samantha Baker out rode the other seven junior exhibitors to claim the blue prize with Callaway’s High Expectations. Francis Neunuebel also put in a good ride on Desert’s Supreme Cowboy to carry out the reserve tricolor.


In the adult section, Betts Coup collected the vote of all three judges with her appropriately named entry Unanimous Consent. Amber Mitchell was thrilled with her reserve tricolor in a group of 11, riding Caramac’s Casanova out of the ring.


The Amateur Fine Harness saw only two drivers enter the arena. Regardless Castledream performed as if he was in a class of 10, marching a true harness park trot. Misdee Wrigley Miller drove her white trimmed son of world’s champion Castle Bravo to the unanimous blue. Brendan Heintz catch-drove Oban for Samantha Conlin to earn the reserve with Jay Wood coaching from the rail.


Moved from the Wisconsin Futurity to the Royal this year were the Youth Driving Challenge Finals. The show pleasure division took place this afternoon with seven junior exhibitors giving some nice drives. It was by unanimous decision that Aliyah Asch went to the winner’s circle with her multi-titled CH Advantage Me. Nicole Laroussa drove hard to earn the reserve tricolor and silver medallion with She Phloats On Heir. Third and wearing the bronze were Lyndi Skinner and CH Showboat’s Casino.


Julie Greenbaum Belgrad was the sole exhibitor in the Show Pleasure Driving 38 and Under class. She won it last year with CH It’s Good Karma and their karma continued to take the blue a second time under the direction of Roman and Cayce Marcos.


Fifteen of the country’s top park horses marched into the ring with their amateur riders in the saddle. Tara Grom stepped up into the irons for her older sister, Kaitlyn, who was delayed in getting to the show. It all worked out for Tara who rode Perfect Vengeance to the winner’s circle with Michael Richardson running in to congratulate them. Princess Ruby Begonia outshone the others to earn the reserve with Nancy Leigh Fisher up for the ride. Mimi Bahcall and her long-necked Long Distance collected the yellow ribbon.


With only a few minutes to change tack, Tara Grom was back in the ring and the winner’s circle to capture the Junior Exhibitor 15-17 Three-Gaited Country Pleasure class with a unanimous vote. She piloted Uwharrie’s Patriot Sage to the blue. Emily Doll and the bright-eyed The Gun Moll stepped up to take the red streamers back to Palos Hills Stables.


Seven ponies entered the ring with their junior exhibitor drivers for their pleasure driving class. Mollie Kregor continued her winning year with Sandra Surber’s Heartland Entitled, winning the blue with Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon coaching her. Last year’s winner, Will Mayo and Motown earned the red ribbon with Mike and Kathy Barlow greeting them at the gate.


Certainly A Star was just that as he and Kelsey Smith trotted down victory lane in the nine-horse Mo-Kan Park Stake, representing William Woods University. Julie Payne handled the reserve ride on Frontline for High Spirits Farm.


The cute team of Hunter Chancellor and The Attaché Orchid bested a group of four in the Three-Gaited Pony class. Todd Miles and Lillian Shively met the pair in the winner’s circle for the unanimous blue. Katherine Randall had her pony in all the right spots to earn the red ribbon with Callaway’s Viscount for Brookdale Farms and trainers Joe Elam and Julie Kaufman.


The Show Pleasure Driving 39 and Over class got a little hairy at times with 14 entries in the small arena. After all lined up, the judges decided a workout was needed. Ten remained in the ring while the rest were excused. Working both ways of the ring a second time proved to be a little easier for everyone. When the cards were turned in Peter Fenton called Nancy Lassiter and Callaway’s Head Over Heels to the winner’s circle. Patty Milligan raced in to greet her team. CH J Peterman and Corrine Tomlinson gave two great performances to claim the reserve honors. CH Shot With Glory and Elizabeth James-Lipscomb collected the yellow ribbon.


The five-gaited ponies finished out the third morning session. Five trotted and racked around the ring with their junior exhibitors riders. Tyler Miles joined barnmate Hunter Chancellor in adding another unanimous blue to the DeLovely Farms tack room. Miles rode Moon Charmer to the win under the direction of his father, Todd Miles. Alexa McWilliams guided Callaway’s Exception To The Rule into the reserve position.

Thursday Evening

Thursday night is always well anticipated with a great selection of equitation riders and young horses and ponies displayed throughout the night. A detailed story of these classes can be found in a separate online story.


Ten entries took the gate for the Mo-Kan Tom Bass Memorial Five-Gaited Stake. It was a competitive class and each one had to make some good passes to find a place on the judges’ cards. When the dust had settled the tricolor and trophy went to Take A Guess and Megan Nicole Harrison. Roberta Rassieur owns the dark bay champion. Glenda Pugh teamed up with (SA) Studcor Donatello to take the reserve prize.


Friday Morning

The two-year-olds kicked off the morning session with their fine harness entries. Toping the group of four was Dr. Alan Raun and his homebred County Supervisor. World’s Champion Curtis Lowe collected the reserve with Steve Demjen driving.


The Missouri-Kansas divisions began their championships this morning as well. This first one was the Country Pleasure Championship. Betts Coup had the pleasure perfect Magikal Marissa in just the right spots to earn the tricolor. Hometown team, Barbara Johnson and As Promised had their share of the crowd’s support for the reserve honors.


It was a bittersweet win for Rachael Machamer as she guided CH Blackberry Delight to the unanimous championship win in the junior exhibitor show pleasure division. Over the past 14 years, Blackberry Delight has had wins in countless divisions, including show pleasure, three-gaited, park, pleasure driving and in-hand as a weanling. With tears in their eyes, longtime trainers Lynda and Andy Freseth greeted the multi-world’s champion team in the winner’s circle to prepare them for their final victory pass before the gelding retires from the show ring. The crowd responded with an overwhelming standing ovation for one of the greatest show horses to ever grace the ring.


In a field that contained eight world’s champions, CH Ninety-Eight Degrees was the reserve national champion with Katherine Randall in the irons. Rounding out the top three was the California team, CH A Magic Spell and Katie Jarve.


Another group of two-year-olds hit the ring for the three-gaited section. A nice group gave the audience a taste of what’s to come in the next generation. The bold chestnut Sir Raymond Ross and Jim Lowry were called into the winner’s circle for Tricolor Ventures. Last year Zach Duffy had the winning entry. This year he had to settle for reserve with Chris Kaplan’s Lovely Addition.


The Missouri-Kansas owned entries took to the ring again for their Three-Gaited Stake. The punchy Uncle Charlie topped the group of three with Greg Haston in the saddle for William and Diana Ennis. Brenda Benner claimed the reserve position with My Sweet E Motion.


The last of the two-year-olds charged through the gates for the five-gaited division. Big and bold were the best words used to describe Jan Lukens’s Perfectly Designed. This pair was hard to ignore and so was sent to the winner’s circle. Mitch Clark directed the reserve champion It’s So Easy through his gaits, indeed making it look easy.


Eleven returned for the Three-Gaited Park Pleasure Stake, which was also a Grand National class. Besting the group was the qualifying winner Top Beat, with Marc Holm in the saddle for Meadowood Farms. Darrell Case claimed the reserve ribbon again with Riders On The Storm for Gene and Mary Russell and Willowbank Farm.


The Five-Gaited Show Pleasure National Championship was divided into an adult and junior exhibitor section. The junior exhibitors entered first with 14 marching through the gates. It has been an undefeated week for the young Callie Smith as she once again rode to the winner’s circle with She’s Gone Blonde. Sunken Treasure and Drew Taylor Hewitt were thrilled to earn the reserve tricolor in a very competitive class. Rounding out the top three was the hard riding Allie Wellington and CH MmmBop.


The adult class stepped it up a notch with 16 in the section. All three judges agreed to send Hero’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash back to the winner’s circle with Travis Van Zetten up for the ride. CH Will’s No Doubt About It left no doubt that he was one of the best horses in the class and collected the reserve ribbon with Jessica Timmington in the saddle. Janet Thompson directed her Quidditich to the third place honors.


The Mo-Kan Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship ended the regular performance part of the session before the UPHA Walk/Trot Challenge Cup National Championship took place. She’s Poison and Cortney Lynch topped the six-horse class with a very nice ride. Jane Costello rode out of the ring with the red streamers as she directed Champagne Suzie to the reserve.

Friday Evening

Pink was the theme Friday night as money was raised from the evening’s events to be donated to the Susan Komen For The Cure Foundation with riders, trainers and spectators all displaying their support by wearing something pink. Money was raised in several ways. Those who wore pink in the stands or center ring had $1 donated for them by the American Royal Association. For every exhibitor or show official who wore pink,  $5 was donated. The finale of the night, the Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship, was the designated Pink Ribbon class in which the proceeds were given to the Foundation. Lastly pledges were accepted until the start of the night.


Kicking off the night was the Amateur Three-Gaited National Championship with a star-studded class of nine. After exhibiting her versatility earlier in the week, Adelita returned in a true park-trot fashion to win the unanimous vote of the judges. It’s a great way for owner and rider David Rudder to make a comeback after a couple years away from the show ring. CH Sue She pushed the winning team every step of the way, earning the reserve national honors with Ericka Nelson up for Robert and Marilyn Gaiswinkler.


Four high-stepping cob-tails vied for the amateur national championship. It was another unanimous decision that sent Heartland Alluring and Deborah Jahn to the winner’s circle. Anna Marie Knipp was at the lines of Unequaled to handle the reserve drive.


Mia Blevins Morris continued her domination of the amateur roadster pony division by capturing the unanimous vote of the judges to race away with the national championship with Heartland Sundust. Kevin Ingram and Calvin Hobbs were right on their heels for the reserve tricolor.


Judy McNeish gave an exhibition in the Road Horse to Wagon Championship. Invincible Summer was decked out in pink ribbons as he raced to the blue.


A nice class of five came in for the Junior Three-Gaited class. Callaway’s Born With Style proved that he indeed had style when he and trainer Smith Lilly were called out as the unanimous winners. Jim Lowry guided the elegant bay Gloria Vanderbilt to the red streamers.


Moving from the Wisconsin Futurity to the American Royal was the ASHA Junior Exhibitor Fine Harness Driving Challenge Final. Only two competed for the honors and it was Ashley Baird with CH Cary’s Moonraker to take the unanimous blue home to Illinois. This was the third consecutive year Cary’s Moonraker has won the title.  Baird had also won the Fine Harness Driving Challenge when she was nine-years-old with Star Spangled Steel. Patsy Loeb guided Catrin to the reserve ribbon this year.


For the second year in a row Minute Maide bested the competition to take the Amateur Harness Pony National Championship. Owner Christy Weaver Gantley was at the lines for the winning drive. Qualifying winner Delightful Time and owner Stephany Monteleone had a beautiful drive for the reserve tricolor.


Pour Some Sugar On Me gave a very sweet performance in the nine-horse Junior Five-Gaited Grand National class. The hard driving mare earned the blue with Todd Miles in the saddle for Melrose LLC. Debbie Foley received a large ovation from the crowd for her ride on reserve champion Callaway’s Karla. Jo Ann Griffin owns the popular mare.


The Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship called back 11 entries for national title. It was another unanimous decision for Carol Hillenbrand as she directed her qualifier winner CH Just Special down victory lane. The elegant combination of CH Lightnin Lil and Nicole Beltz Tolliver outshone the rest of the group to wear the reserve tricolor from the ring. It was a tough class but holding their own was Amanda Dellinger and CH My Grande for the third place ribbon.


Two returned for the Amateur Road Horse National Championship to put on a race for the crowd. Racing away with the blue and all three of the judges’ votes were Thunderbolt and Judy McNeish. Alcazar and Colby Herron pushed hard for the red streamers.


The final class of the night and the highlight of the evening was the Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship. Ten ladies rode to help find a cure for breast cancer and each team put on a great performance. Unlike the other national championships, this one was pinned in reverse order. When it was narrowed down to the last two standing at the far end of the ring, Melissa Moore and Gayle Lampe both wondered who would be called first. Peter Fenton asked Moore and (SA) SJ Space Buckaneer to ride forward for the reserve honors. That left Lampe and CH Callaway’s Born To Win as the only ones in the ring. Decked out in her pink coat with pink ribbons in the world’s champion’s mane, Lampe was ecstatic to be the first winner of the pink ribbon class.


At the end of the evening it was announced that between donations and pledges gathered over the week, $16,216 was collected for the Susan Komen For The Cure Foundation.


Saturday Morning

Beginning the last day at the American Royal and the horse show season was the Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited class. Six young entries park-trotted into the ring with flair and bravado. Capturing the attention of all the judges to be sent to the winner’s circle unanimously was Stonecroft Nightlight. Jim Lowry was in the saddle for Karrie Graham and Dwaine Kinderknecht. David Cater guided the bright chestnut Golden Market to the red streamers for Catherine McCool.


For the past five years, CH Callaway’s Pretty Penny has dominated the country pleasure driving division. This year she continued her winning streak to capture the unanimous win with Nancy Anderson at the lines. Lynda and Andy Freseth jogged in to greet their six-time national champions. Best the rest of the six-horse field was the mother-daughter team of Debbie Marcum and Mary Marcum Orr. Debbie directed CH Dr. Decker to the reserve tricolor.


Nine pleasure ponies entered the ring for their driving national championship. Stephany Monteleone visited the winner’s circle for the third time this week, handling Mastercraft’s Namesake LF for the win. Abel Vega met his team in center ring. Razzle Dazzle Me dazzled the judges to capture the reserve title with Kay Marschel in the buggy.


Eleven very talented three-year-old five-gaited horses paraded before the judges and the audience. Owner Carol Hillenbrand enjoyed another blue ribbon with trainer John Conatser in the saddle on Callaway’s Cassis. It was a unanimous decision for this white-trimmed three-year-old. Smith Lilly handled the reserve ride on Callaway’s Azul for Platinum Stock Farm.


The Western Country Pleasure Championship saw 15 entries return for the chance to claim the national championship. Jogging to the winner’s circle was the owner/amateur/trainer pair of Talmage’s Heiress and Janet O’Bannon. Kim Gallenberg teamed up with Braveheart Of Silver Oaks to capture the reserve national title.


Former World’s Grand Champion An Heir About Her has gone undefeated this week. Marjorie Townsend directed the champion mare to the national championship for Everglade Farm out of a world’s champion group of 14. Brittany McGinnis capably handled the high-stepping Ostentatiously to the reserve honors. The 15-17 division winner Keeper Of The Stars rounded out the top three awards with Jackie De La Parte handling the winning ride.


Only two came in for the Junior Harness Pony class. It was by a unanimous that The Remington went to the winner’s circle with Julia McDonald at the lines. Jimmy Miller directed Manitou to the red ribbon.


After such a large qualifier earlier in the week, it was a bit of a surprise to see only six come back for the Show Pleasure Driving National Championship. It was still a competitive class and when the cards were turned in, Nancy Lassiter made another trip down victory lane with her Callaway’s Head Over Heels. Patty Milligan coached the winning team. CH Shot With Glory made the reserve performance with Elizabeth James-Lipscomb at the lines for Hollow Haven Farm.


Three returned to the ring for the Three-Gaited Pony Stake. Returning to the spotlight was Hunter Chancellor with her perky pony, world’s champion The Attaché Orchid. CH Tip Of The Hat and Brittany Balagna captured the reserve honors.


A competitive group of 13 came back for the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure National Championship. Tara Grom revisited a familiar winner’s circle when she was named the unanimous winner with Uwharrie’s Patriot Sage. Ooh La Latte was pleasure horse perfection with Alexandra Lawson up for the ride to collect the reserve position.


CH The Shadow Knows very rarely sees defeat and like last year he made that familiar trek down victory lane with Linda Meyer in the saddle for the unanimous national championship win. Carol Hillenbrand teamed up with League Of Nations to wear the reserve tricolor from the ring with John Conatser meeting them at the out gate.


The Junior Roadster Pony heralded in four entries. Sugarland and Eric Kirsch sped off with the blue while Larry Bacon guided Heartland Awesome Queen to the red streamers.


The three-year-olds took to the ring for their fine harness section. The beautiful pinto Bucardi caught the judges’ attention to earn the blue ribbon with Steve Demjen at the lines. Kathy Capsuto directed last year’s two-year-old winner to the reserve honors.


A large class of 14 returned to battle it out for the Amateur Park Stake. Kaitlyn Grom picked up where her sister left off - in the winner’s circle. She piloted Perfect Vengeance to the tricolor after her sister, Tara, claimed the qualifier. Long Distance and Mimi Bahcall park-trotted out of the ring with the reserve tricolor in hand. Nancy Leigh Fisher gave everyone a run for their money, directing Princess Ruby Begonia to the third place ribbon.


In the final class of the day before the USEF Medal Finals took place, the junior exhibitors raced their roadster ponies around the ring. Too young to drive a car, these drivers were more than capable with their ponies. Multi-champion Albert Kapony and teammate Kevin Berman sped away with the blue for co-owner Ada Perwien. All the way from Wisconsin, Patsy Loeb drove Thunderation to the second place title.


Saturday Evening

After a presentation of the equitation final champions as well as the national and reserve champions, the show got under way with a stunning Fine Harness National Championship. Like in the amateur division, Castledream was the epitome of a harness horse and with owner Misdee Wrigley Miller at the lines, took a trip down victory lane with the tricolor. Second in the class of five went to the harness mare winner, The Lady Sings The Blues, with Nelson Green at the whip for a crowd-pleasing performance. Making a bold performance, Mother Mary and Sandy Lilly were a popular team in third.


Elegance was what best described the Ladies Three-Gaited National Championship. Six ladies showed off their horses, but when the cards were turned in it was a unanimous decision and current world’s champion of champions Our Charming Lady finished out the year undefeated with Mary Marcum Orr in the saddle for Jack and Donna Finch. Christy Bennett made several great passes to earn the reserve vote of the judges with her champion CH Callaway’s Merry Go Round.


Taking on the professionals, Georgia Blevins and Free Willy outdid them all to claim the top spot on all three cards and finish the season undefeated. Maureen Lydon and Rich Campbell directed this team to the open qualifier win as well. Chris Gantley had on the blue and gray silks to garner the reserve national title with Dreaming & Scheming.


The amateurs came in for their first class of the night in the five-gaited division. It was a class of 13 with several being world and national champions. However the judges did not have a doubt in their minds when they all named CH Swish the Amateur Five-Gaited National Champion for the second year in a row. Carol Hillenbrand rode her gelding down victory lane once again. Lakeview’s Rare A Phi and Misdee Wrigley made a formidable team as they racked away with the reserve prize. Whimsicality captured the win earlier this week in the mare division and returned with Kaitlyn Grom in the saddle for the third place ribbon.


Lady Vol and Chris Kaplan were the only entry in the Amateur Fine Harness National Championship, but what a stunning picture this team made under the direction of Mike Roberts.


The junior exhibitors had their turn in the spotlight when the Five-Gaited Pony class stormed into the ring. Five returned for the challenge of capturing the tricolor honors. It was the current world’s champion team of Moon Charmer and Tyler Miles who claimed the blue ribbon with dad Todd Miles directing from the rail. Callaway’s Exception To The Rule racked and trotted with the heart of a horse twice his size as he and Alexa McWilliams earned the reserve ribbon.


Another small pony class entered the ring. Christy Weaver Gantley was the sole performer in the Harness Pony National Championship, but as always Gantley made an elegant drive to entertain the crowd. She dedicated her win to her husband, Chris Gantley, for his birthday.


The show switched gears as the three-gaited entries marched to the ring for their national championship. It was a thrilling class of six entries, with each one heralding their own cheering section. Already a world’s grand champion, Grande Gil added a national title to his list of wins as well when Misdee Wrigley Miller directed him to the unanimous win. Last year’s champion, Lace’s Last Tango was another crowd favorite with Jim Lowry riding the Tri Color Venture owned entry to the reserve honor. Mike McIntosh and Hillside’s Sensation carried out the third place ribbon for Pat and Laura Lockwood.


CH His Supreme Reflection had a comeback victory, already having the qualifier on his list of wins. Andy Freseth directed the unanimous champion down victory lane for Robert and Marilyn Gaiswinkler. This victory pass completed an undefeated season for the formidable team. Lisa Strickland was up in the saddle on reserve champion Philip Martinelli for Saddlewood Farm in the seven-entry class. This newcomer to the show ring made a big splash this week.


It was a two-horse race in the Road Horse to Bike National Championship. With the support of all three judges, Melissa Moore piloted The Gambler into the winner’s circle. Katie Coup handled Bristle N to the reserve spot.


Watching the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited class got the audience in the mood for the finale of the night. With duels between riders and horses going on all around the ring, it was hard to pick a favorite. Already on a high from earlier in the day with her Triple Crown victory, Brittany McGinnis put in another championship ride on Carolina Cat. Riding in the same style as his trainer, Clark Clouse, Justin Cowley tipped his hat to the crowd’s support as he directed Colonel Hoss to the reserve honors. Last year’s open five-gaited national champion, Memorize, and Sarah Sessoms made all the right passes for the third place vote.


World’s Champion Lord Ovation and Larry Bacon wowed the crowd and the judges to top the three-entry class in the Hackney Pony National Championship. Sandra Surber’s Heartland Candidate claimed the reserve national title with Maureen Lydon on the lines.


It was time for the finale of the American Royal, the Tom Moore Five-Gaited National Championship with $50,000 at stake. Six horses battled it out in Kemper Arena, dueling and racing down the straightaways. After the rail work, saddles were stripped and each entry was led up to the judges one at a time. When the cards were turned in, the awards were announced in reserve order. Pucker Up with Robert Gardner, Night Of A Thousand Stars with Jack Magill, (SA) Calif First Night Out with Neil Visser and Courageous Lord with Mike Barlow were brought out of the group respectively, leaving Twice Charmed and CH Walterway’s Remember Me at the end of the ring. Owner Ceil Wheeler had to leave the show earlier after earning the amateur gelding class, which let trainer John Conatser make the reserve national championship ride.


The crowd was behind Melissa Moore and Twice Charmed every step of the way. Wiping away tears, Moore rode to center ring to accept her father’s trophy. With her mother in the stands, Moore gave her thanks to Jack Magill who started the young mare and to those who supported her during the year. The Tom Moore Memorial Trophy was inaugurated last year where sister Melinda Moore won it on Memorize. Keeping it in the family, Melissa trotted out of the ring with her father riding with her and tricolor streaming from her pocket.


This brought to a close, yet another show season and another UPHA/American Royal National Championship. From the Mo-Kan division to equitation, performance, UPHA Classics and AHHS Medallions, this National Championship competition was indeed the third jewel of the American Saddlebred Triple Crown.

This concludes the highlights from the UPHA American Royal National Championship Horse Show. Complete results can be seen and searched by clicking here. Judges’ cards can be found here                                                                                                                                                                                         

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