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Large Fan Base on Hand for 20th Madison Classic

by Bob Funkhouser

MADISON, Wis. - UPHA Chapter 3/4’s Madison Classic has been a show that has taken on many faces. For the past 20 years, it has been the Madison Classic and for some 50 years before that it was the Madison Charity Horse Show under the direction of Bob and Eleanor Killerlain. The show has gone back and forth from the smaller annex located on the grounds of the Alliant Energy Center to the spacious coliseum located just adjacent to the annex.

Both venues have had their pluses and both have had their negatives. This year, due to economic concerns, it returned to the annex. One morning of heavy rain made it messy outside the annex, leaving no place to really work or warm up but after that dried out, it turned out to be a good weekend.

"I know the Coliseum is bigger, but there is something about the atmosphere here that feels like more energy," said Manager Liv Moyer. "With smaller seating capacity the stands are packed."

Helping pack the stands was the fact that the "World’s Largest Brat Festival" was held on the grounds and the thousands who visited the Brat Fest came right through the barn and warm up areas. Some of those stray baby strollers certainly made it hazardous at times, however, it was great to see some of that crowd make its way into the horse show. You repeatedly heard, "What kind of horses are these?" When the show was held at the coliseum next to the field where the Brat Fest is held, the general public would stand for a while and watch horses warm up, but they never found their way into the coliseum. This time they were a part of the fan base as were the waves of runners who participated in the Madison Marathon that started and finished at the Alliant Center.

"The Brat Fest sold a record 208,000 brats and the Madison Marathon started and finished at the Alliant Center with more than 6,000 racers. The Madison Classic Horse Show felt like a State Fair," added Marlene LaFleur, who has attended the show since the ‘50s.

Although they were right at 300 horses on hand, there were a handful of barns noticeably absent, leaving some of the performance classes on the light side. As usual in this part of the country, the pleasure classes were well filled with numbers and talent. The talent was also there for the performance divisions, there just needed to be much more of it.

Manager Liv Moyer was assisted by a UPHA advisory board made up of Lynda and Andy Freseth, Marlene LaFleur, Jay Wood, Scott Matton, Mike Barry, Dave Trussell, Rick Wallen and Ryan Rongers. Their judge for this year was Melinda Moore who did a very efficient job. Moore’s ringmaster was the always-colorful John Frye who was joined in center ring by photographer Rick Osteen. John Owens was a familiar voice in the announcer’s seat.

Also on the official team, Vicky Holston was on top of everything in the horse show office, while Peter Remender was at his usual post as the barn announcer and Randy Roberts kept the beat as the organist.

Madison has always been a show with the extras. This year a Pink Party was held following Saturday night’s session. Nicely done with live music and all, it served as the exhibitors’ party and was part of the promotion of one of its charity programs, the Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation, Inc. The Madison Classic also helps its own by again giving three $500 scholarships to the winners of selected junior exhibitor championships. Patsy Loeb, winner of the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship with The Talk Of Lexington; Grace Gabower, the winner of the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship with Majestic’s Wingmaster; and Deanna Lannigan, winner of the Pleasure Equitation Championship, all received $500 scholarships. "Chuck A Duck" was held by the Winsome Whinnies Youth Club to benefit the ASAW Scholarship Fund.

Probably the two best classes of the weekend were the 11-horse Adult Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and the large Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Park Championship. The gaited pleasure stake was also the class selected for Sunday’s Jackpot Judging. Jackpot Judging is as much a part of the Madison Classic as the Five-Gaited Championship. For those not familiar with it, judge’s cards are sold for $5 a piece and each night management selects a class for Jackpot Judging. Those who purchase a card have to match the official judge’s card from first through six. Half of the money collected goes to the winner and half to the show. If there are multiple winners the pot is split. If no one wins, the money rolls over to the next day and is added to what is sold for the next selected class.

No one matched Judge Moore’s card on either Friday or Saturday, although there were some close ones, so Sunday’s pot was quite large to say the least. Again no one matched her card exactly in the Adult Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship, but since it was the last day they awarded it to the closest one. This turned out to be a tie between two very happy gentlemen, Lance Hayes and Jason Gershman.

Moore’s placing in the championship featured Nancy Leigh Fisher and Gotta Be Charmed at the top of the card coming back strong after a low tie in the qualifier. They were by themselves in the packed class and never missed a beat at any gait to earn tricolor honors. Qualifying winner, Walterway’s Believe In Me, made some special passes himself to finish as the reserve grand champion with Corbin Smith turning in a smart ride. The always-hustling world’s champion combination of CH Chandler and Lisa McClaren were third in the all-star championship with The Evangelist, Across The Sky and My Pepper Ann taking the remaining three ribbons.

Combined with winners from the junior exhibitor class, which was a very nice class itself, and the amateur qualifier, the Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Park Championship would have been right at home at any horse show. The multi-titled World’s Champion CH Nelmar Tango 4 Ever took the tricolor with his partner, Emily Scharpf, leading way from Knollwood Farm. The once walk-trot star was equally sporty with a mane and he started the weekend by winning the amateur class.

Reserve grand champion honors went to World’s Champion The Paper Princess JJW, shown by a juvenile for the first time. Under the direction of Jay Wood, Breanna Lukan gave the gorgeous and athletic Supreme Heir daughter two great rides, qualifying with a win in the junior exhibitor class. Not to be overlooked, Corbin Smith had Awesome Memories in the right spots to take third in the Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Park Championship. Also in the ribbons were Joker’s Wild, Crimson Blue and Royal Crest’s Rockin The Town.

From the gaited division, Reedann’s Top Notch, The Midnight Hero, Kenya Ketch Me, Miracle On Broadway, Champagne Caramac, The Talk Of Lexington and Brookhill’s Nite Shift all visited the winner’s circle.

Born Independent, Cataclysmic, Gypsies Tramps & Thieves, Callaway’s Rosemary And Thyme and The Camera Man paraded down victory lane among the walk-trot entries. Coco Loco and Demi’s Dark Design traded spots in the open park division with Coco wearing the tricolor. Coco Mojo was another park winner.

Oban was the harness division champion, winning both amateur and open classes. She’s Amber Delight took the junior/novice and Royal Crest’s Rhinestone Cowboy was a standout in the UPHA Fine Harness Classic.

The checkered flag went to Regal’s Lady Bess LF in the Road Pony Championship with qualifying winner Nightheir in reserve. Seamair Strutter, The Wizard LF and Queensbury Debutante all went home with road pony blues as well. Creation’s Windstar was two for two in the harness pony division, while Honest Impression did the same thing or pleasure driving ponies.

Not quite as powerful as their adult counterparts, the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship was very competitive. He’s Heirresistible and Loretta Mulberry overcame qualifying winners Katie Koeppel and The Whole Town’s Talking for champion honors. The same thing happened in the Park Pleasure Championship and open class with Rick Wallen and Glinda The Good coming back to receive the tricolor over open class winners King Of Pop and Tom Thorpe.

Young pleasure talent included Ro & Me’s Satori (Junior Park Pleasure) with Mayo Moctezuma and Opportunist (UPHA Park Pleasure Classic) with Terri Anne Ullman. Mojito and Sara Linder were awesome both times in the junior show pleasure championship and qualifier.

There were a lot of double winners in the pleasure sections including Douglas Fiola and CH Will’s No Doubt About It (Show Pleasure Driving) and Jason Gershman with Alpha Priority (Country Five-Gaited Pleasure). Beth Krueger and Pierre Cardin swept the adult show pleasure division, while CH Fine By Me and Alicia Sacotte did the same in the junior exhibitor 14-17 section. Majestic’s Wingmaster and Grace Gabower followed suit for junior exhibitor country pleasure exhibitors.

CH Laguardia and The Majestic won the 13 and under show pleasure classes. The qualifier was Maya Manilow and The Majestic’s only performance. Eva Heniges had a great ride aboard the grand old gelding, CH Laguardia to command the championship. The Bourne Supremacy was the winner of the first round in Adult Country Pleasure only to watch Jedidiah take the loot in the championship. Likewise, Carissimo won the Country Pleasure Driving class and Another Great Day came back to make the last pass in the second round.

From the western pleasure division, In The Zone jogged out of town with two winning ribbons while the smooth going AF Colour Creation swept the hunter pleasure competition.

The strongest of the equitation division was pleasure in which Deanna Lanigan was the best of the best as she was in the USEF Medal. The Walk and Trot Equitation Grand Champion was Brynn Lunaas, winner of the UPHA Walk and Trot Challenge Cup.

These were the highlights from the 20th annual Madison Classic. Most of those in attendance were headed home to prepare for Indy or Midwest Charity right around the corner.

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