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CH A Sweet Treat - Regal In Every Way

by Bob Funkhouser 

You’ve heard about those horses that are born with “it.” If you’re extremely lucky you’ve bred, owned or trained one that possessed that special ingredient that allows them to be a notch above.

John Scheidt and Don Spear of Stonecroft Farm lost a mare that went her whole life knowing she was special. Was it the regal look? Was it the way she whipped her legs? Was it her charismatic attitude? Whatever that intangible was it made CH A Sweet Treat an icon of the breed; one of only three horses in history to win world’s grand championships in two divisions: Chief Of Longview, CH Memories Citation and CH A Sweet Treat. Her passing at the age of 23 followed that of another great Stonecroft matron, CH Amusing.

Dr. Simon Fredrick’s Simbara Farm was the breeder of Simbara’s Sweet Treat, as she was originally registered. Simply put, Sweet Treat was born regal. She was the eighth of 18 from one of the American Saddlebred’s most prolific producers.

When you think back at some of the greatest crosses, CH Anacacho Shamrock and Flirtation Walk come to mind with their produce: World’s Grand Champions CH Wing Commander and CH Dream Waltz (BHF), World’s Champion CH Lover’s Lane, Reserve World’s Champion and World’s Champion Sire Private Contract, Primrose Path and the noted breeding stallion Command Decision.

Then you have to consider Oman’s Desdemona Denmark and Dixie Duchess. Their family portrait included World’s Grand Champion CH Belle Elegant, World’s Champions CH Summer Melody, CH Glenview’s Radiance, and CH Denmark’s Grand Duchess, as well as the breeding stallions All Hail Columbia and Valley’s Desdemona Denmark.

Then we have Broodmare Hall of Fame matron Denmark’s Radiant Society. When crossed with Bit Hutcheson’s great sire, World’s Champion Merchant Prince, Denmark’s Radiant Society produced an incredible string of world’s champions, including her second daughter, World’s Grand Champion CH A Sweet Treat. Siblings included world’s champions CH Rejoice, CH The Radiant Prince, Simbara’s Cara Mia, Simbara’s Samba Jamba, CH The Great Gaspar, Simbara’s Living Legend, Simbara’s Special Someone, and Simbara’s Exclamation. If that wasn’t enough, Denmark’s Radiant Society also produced World’s Grand Champion CH Be Happy and titleholders CH Simbara’s Audacity, Simbara’s Stars And Stripes and The Ultimate Sultan.

Like many of those out of Denmark’s Radiant Society listed above, this larger than life mare was started by the Garland Bradshaw disciple Carter Cox. Her debut was at Louisville in the ASR Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Futurity where she placed fourth behind Pisgah Pike, Albelarm Sorcerer and Silk Slipper. That placing is still a surprise to her trainer and owner/breeder. Two weeks later all that energy and expression came together again to win the ASHA Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Sweepstakes. As a three-year-old they lit up section two of Lexington Junior League’s Three-Year-Old Fine Harness class and that’s where Beth Clifton decided she would like to be the mare’s next owner.

“That mare was a little fractious to start. Several in that family were that way,” said Carter Cox. “You had to be careful with them but the thing about them was when you went through that gate they lit up like a Christmas tree. You had to know her, but that mare was a joy to have. The best I had her was at Lexington as a three-year-old when we sold her to Beth Clifton. That sister squatted and crawled down that straightaway.”

Her name was changed to A Sweet Treat, Nelson Green was the new trainer and a string of 14 consecutive wins from 1995 to 1997 began with Green driving to the World’s Champion ASHA National Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Futurity title.  He had driven her sire to that very same title in 1986. That fall, Sweet Treat and Green triumphed as the UPHA Fine Harness Classic Grand Champions at the American Royal. They would also earn two Fine Harness World’s Grand Championships, a Junior Fine Harness Mare World’s Championship and a Fine Harness Mare World’s Championship during that three-year stretch. Those world’s titles went with championships and qualifiers from Lexington Junior League, Devon and Carousel.

Following her 1997 world’s grand championship Sweet Treat moved to the amateur division with the Wheeler family who had purchased her before she won her first world’s grand championship the year before. Kenny Jr. started with the qualifier at ASHAV and then Sallie Wheeler took her first spin, winning ASHAV’s amateur championship.

With a winter’s work the new team swept the amateur division at Devon on the way to a single appearance at Lexington Junior League, a win in the amateur class. Green had the mare and her 68-year-old driver setting on go for Louisville and they delivered, winning the amateur qualifier and then the Reserve World’s Champion Of Champions Amateur Fine Harness title. Wheeler and her mare were reserve in a great class with Ladies Fine Harness World’s Champions Absolutely Fabulous and Susan Phillips taking the roses. Behind Sweet Treat and Wheeler in third was the strikingly elegant team of world’s champion Our Canary Diamond and Misdee Wrigley (Miller), followed by CH Eleanor Rigby and Ann Fitzpatrick in fourth and Susan Bartlett with CH Preferred American rounding out the top five, all Louisville winners at one time or another in their careers.

“I had her for three owners and all three won world’s championships,” said Nelson Green of the late CH A Sweet Treat. “I’ve been extremely involved in her whole family. Her family played a very influential role in my career. I showed both her sire and her dam (Merchant Prince x Denmark’s Radiant Society BHF) to three-year-old harness world’s championships. Her great grandsire, Genius Mountain Bourbon I showed when I was in my early 20s. I showed her grand-dam, Denmark’s Society Sue who was a Broodmare Hall of Fame mare.

“It helped with Sweet Treat that I knew how that family thought and what worked for them. Carter [Cox] did a great job starting her; she was just immature when I got her. This mare had so much charisma and was very athletic. She always had a light mouth too. That’s why I thought she would be perfect for Sallie [Wheeler]. She had driven horses all her life and she drove this mare really well.”

A new chapter began when Peter and Kim Cowart were looking for a “really special” walk-trot horse for client Emily Hess to show in the junior exhibitor division. Green recommended Sweet Treat to the Cowarts.
 “We went and tried her, rode her a couple times,” recalled Kim Cowart. “She was exciting but hadn’t done the riding thing much. It took some work, especially getting her canters.

“I remember showing her at Pro-Am for the first time and she was so spooky. However, there was nothing like that first ride at Louisville. I remember going up that chute and I had never ridden anything that electric in my life. She was just amazing.

“They called for a workout with Elisabeth Goth and Hollywood Excellence who had won it the year before. The crowd was going crazy and Sweetie just lit up. If you remember that was the year Roz [Harris] had died and it was a pretty somber show. That class pumped Louisville back up. I remember riding down the elevator the next morning with Tom Moore and he said, ‘you put a ride on that mare last night.’ I was so excited that Tom Moore would say something like that to me. I couldn’t believe it. We came back and won the championship and it was my 40th birthday. That was so cool.

“Life was easy for her. She was just a freak, so athletic and a great top line. Everything was scary for her though. To help with the riding we started jogging her without blinkers. She would see everything.”

“Oh, it didn’t take anything to entertain her,” added Nelson Green.

Because Sweet Treat was so quick and did see and hear everything, it didn’t work out as hoped in the junior exhibitor division although Hess did have success, winning the qualifier and championship at the American Royal as well as making victory passes at shows like Asheville Lions Club, Pro-Am and Germantown.

When the Hess family decided to sell Sweet Treat, Nelson Green came calling again, buying her for the third and last time. John Scheidt and Don Spear of Stonecroft Farm were the new owners. Avid breeders, they purchased the grand mare with thoughts of the future but in the meantime she won a Fine Harness Reserve World’s Grand Championship and reserve mare title with Green before the lines were turned over to Scheidt.

They won at the American Royal that fall and Rock Creek the next year before her final two show ring performances, both on the green shavings of Freedom Hall. In the amateur gentlemen’s qualifier they were reserve to CH Kalarama’s New Sensation and Guy Smith but came back in the Amateur Fine Harness Championship to wear the roses one last time.

From the biggest stages in the show world to the life of luxury in retirement, CH A Sweet Treat has given Stonecroft reserve world’s champion Stonecroft Sweet Confection so far.

CH A Sweet Treat left an imprint on all those who were fortunate enough to be a part of her life. It was her zest for the show ring that amazed even those who have had some of the very best.

“She was a once in a lifetime mare,” said John Scheidt. “I will always be grateful to Nelson [Green] for all the incredible memories of Sweet Treat he created for Don [Spear] and I.

“She was the queen of the farm. She didn’t care much for other horses. She had her own paddock and only she used it. She would only spend so many hours out a day, and then she would stand at her gate when she was ready to go back to her stall. We have two daughters at the farm, both in foal to I’m First so her legacy will live on.”

And her memory will live on with many.

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