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Louisville - Saturday Evening

Saturday Evening


After an incredible week of competition, Saturday evening’s championship session began with the Ladies Five-Gaited Championship, and what a great class! Eight top entries answered the gate call and from the first step, they worked hard for the panel and the crowd.


Ceil Wheeler and CH Walterway’s Remember Me (Star Material x Yorktown’s Forget-Me-Not), as the reigning world’s champion of champions, were hoping to defend their title and were joined by seven other entries that had already proven their talent earlier in the week.


The ladies rode hard and nobody gave an inch in the battle among this group of arguably the country’s best ladies gaited horses.


When the cards were turned in, the first unanimous decision of the night went to back number 1916. An elated Ceil Wheeler and CH Walterway’s Remember Me headed to the winner’s circle where they were met by an equally elated Nelson Green. Green saluted Kenneth Wheeler Sr. on his way to meet the world’s champions much to the delight of the crowd.


Finishing with the reserve world’s title was last year’s open reserve world’s grand champion (SA) Carlswald Prince’s Dominoe and Dr. Wendy Troyer after a strong performance. They had previously earned the top three finish in the ladies gelding qualifier under the direction of Paul Boone.


Winner of the Ladies Five-Gaited Mare World’s Championship in 2005 and 2006, CH My Chanel and Dr. Owen Weaver exited the ring with a large share of the crowd’s support for their top three finish.


The Roadster Pony World’s Grand Championship was one of the best roadster pony classes of the show with 12 of the country’s best competing. The open ponies had already competed in their 50-52” and under 50” qualifiers. When the results for the open championship class were announced, the top two spots went to the winners of the open qualifiers.


Free Willy and Georgia Blevins had already been crowned the unanimous winners of the over 50” to 52” class under the direction of Majestic Oaks and they headed down victory lane as the newly crowned and unanimous world’s grand champions.


Unanimous winner of the under 50” qualifier Beaulah Jean finished with the reserve which was also a unanimous decision from the panel. Jeff McClean drove for Golden Creek Farms. Dreaming and Scheming with Chris Gantley, Desert Fox with Linda Park, Heartland Picture Perfect with Mike Schallock, The Wizard with Junior Ray, Heartland City Boy with Jimmy Robertson and Twin Willow’s Storm Warning with Chad Chandler claimed the remaining ribbons in that order.


The Amateur Three-Gaited Championship also featured a who’s who list of competitors and with 12 entries, was one of the night’s biggest classes. Although the action was fast and furious, the momentum slowed a bit with two timeouts during the class. Once things got back to order, the walk-trot horses put on a great show for the crowd who definitely supported their favorites.


Barbara Goodman Manilow earned her first World’s Champion of Champions title of the evening when the home-bred Lady Cinnamon was called out as the winner.  Dick Obenauf met the winning team for their presentation. Sue-She and Carla Ritzie turned in a powerful performance under the direction of Jerry Hutson, to finish as the reserve world’s champions to close out their great week. Last year’s winner CH Callaway’s Merry Go Round earned a first place vote on the way to a top three finish with Christy Bennett riding from Kalarama.


Prior to the start of the Fine Harness World’s Grand Championship, the second open championship of the night, it was announced that this year marked the start of a new tradition at the World’s Championship Horse Show. The winning trainer of the Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion would receive a diamond encrusted world’s championship ring to honor their accomplishment. As the winner of last year’s class with Five O’Clock, Todd Miles was presented with the first ring in a special ceremony.


When the eight harness horses came through the gate, each was met by the roar of the crowd and each had a huge group of fans cheering their support.


Along Came A Spider broke an overcheck coming through the gate but Jacqueline Ware sprinted out of the ring with the crowd cheering her on and when she came back within the allotted time, she was greeted by another huge ovation from the appreciative crowd knowing that she had helped save the bid for the title for Georgia Baker’s popular black mare.


CH Callaway’s Copyright had already earned a place in history last year when he became one of only three horses to earn the world’s grand championship five times. This year, after a picture-perfect drive by John T. Jones, he made history with his sixth consecutive world’s grand championship for Fox Grape Farms, Inc. With Jones smiling from ear to ear, the powerful gelding sired by Supreme Heir took his victory pass with a standing ovation from the crowd for his impressive accomplishment. The decision by the panel was a unanimous one.


Along Came A Spider and George Knight also received an ovation for their reserve world’s grand championship performance. They were followed in the ribbons by Nurse Goodbody and Nelson Green, The Social Butterfly and Bret Day, In Bold Print and Mike Barlow, Periaptus Victorious and Gerald Moores, and VHF The Licorice Drop Kid with Tom Lee.


The Ladies Three-Gaited Championship was another class that featured an incredible group of world’s title-holders competing for the tricolor. Nine gorgeous teams hit the ring in fine fashion and put on a great class. A thrown shoe slowed the momentum yet again, but as this had already been an unbelievable week for thrown shoes, it was not really a surprise. When things got rolling again, it came down to a battle among world’s champions for the top three spots.


Marching Orders has earned a world’s championship every year that he has appeared at Freedom Hall including last year’s Ladies Three-Gaited Championship with Barbara Goodman Manilow. This year marked their second world’s champion of champions title and Manilow’s second of the night. This win for Manilow was a unanimous decision.


CH An Heir About Her, the only three-gaited horse to ever win the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship as a three, four and five-year-old, was the reserve championship winner with owner Sarah Rowland riding under the direction of Ed Bennett. Victoria Lynn, former Junior Three-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions earned the top three ribbon with Helen Cherry up for Zazen Ranch. A reserve world’s champion at two, and winner of this year’s ladies championship at Lexington, Strawberry Pie claimed the fourth place finish with Danette Musselman up for Winding Creek Farm.


Seven harness ponies were next to perform for the judges, and all seven worked hard to vie for the title of Harness Pony World’s Grand Champion. The panel awarded the prestigious honor to Sweetheart Of Success and owner Karen Waldron. They headed to the presentation to be met by trainer Larry Ella after their impressive win for Bent Tree Farm. Earning a first place vote, Heartland Expectation and Karen Frickey exited the ring to a huge ovation from the crowd for their powerful team effort and reserve world’s title under the direction of Randy and Denessa Harper.


The World’s Championship Horse Show Hall of Fame presentations were yet another example of the good job that the show horse community does in recognizing its outstanding individuals. Carter Cox, Jim Koller, along with Rex and Shirley Parkinson were inducted into the Hall Of Fame prior to the next performance class, the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship.

The Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship, while not the biggest class of the night, was certainly one of the most eagerly anticipated and it didn’t disappoint. Seven elegant walk-trot horses challenged and performed well but it soon came down to a battle between Manila Thrilla, the reigning world’s grand champion, CH Yes It’s True, a former world’s grand champion and New York’s Perfect Gift, the multi-titled junior over 15.2 world’s champion. None put a foot wrong and when the entries stripped, each had a large share of support from the crowd.


When the results were announced, it was Manila Thrilla (Sultan’s Royalty x Sable Rose) earning the nod for the second year in a row with Todd Miles. Two tricolors were presented along with the trophies and when Miles took his victory pass with B & T Vonderschmitt’s Manila Thrilla, he stopped and handed one of the tricolors over the rail where it was passed up to his mother who was in the audience cheering him on.


CH Yes It’s True (CF First Night Out x Callaway’s Coronet) and Sam Stafford also received recognition from the crowd for their performance and they exited with the reserve world’s grand championship for Pidgeon Roost Farm. New York’s Perfect Gift (I’m A New Yorker x CH Undulata’s Perfect Gift) and John Conatser took the yellow ribbon for third, along with a first place vote, and earned a huge ovation from the crowd as they left the ring. Boston Legal and Tre Lee, I’m Sky High and Gary Garone, Angela Lane and Ricky Cook and Escriva with Ray Krussell finished in that order.


The road horses put on an exciting class as seven horses competed for the Road Horse To Bike World’s Grand Championship. Big Red earned the title for the second year in a row with Raymond Shively and when Shively took his victory pass, announcer  Peter Doubleday told the crowd Shively had just earned his 16th roadster world’s championship. The winning decision had the complete agreement by the panel. Braveheart, also a former world’s champion, was the reserve world’s grand champion with Marilyn Macfarlane driving.


The remaining ribbons in the roadster championship were awarded to All Glory and William Shatner, Go For Broke and Larry Bacon, Where’s Reuben and Debra Clark, Incredible Dream and Bob Jenkins and Miss Money Penny with Casey Crabtree.


The Amateur Five-Gaited Championship, like the ladies championship, featured an incredible group of five-gaited horses including last year’s winner Swish and former World’s Grand Champion CH Callaway’s Forecaster.


Two timeouts stopped the action but they happened almost simultaneously. So once the action began again, it proceeded smoothly. Twelve horses racked and trotted and worked hard in their bid for the title and when they lined up to strip, it was obvious that they had given their all.


When back number 1533 was called out for the win, Nancy Leigh Fisher was overcome by emotion as she headed to the winner’s circle. Andy and Lynda Freseth ran to meet her and the crowd roared its approval as the powerful gelding prepared to take his victory pass. When Peter Doubleday announced that it was the final show ring appearance for the son of Callaway’s Blue Norther and Callaway’s Country Girl, Nancy Leigh Fisher rode out to a standing ovation in one of the night’s most special moments.


Have You Ever and an elated Barclay DeWet earned the reserve title after a solid effort under the direction of Redd Crabtree, and they exited with a good share of crowd support. Swish was top three with Carol Hillenbrand and earned a first place vote from the judges.


Seven Hackney ponies competed for their world’s grand championship and they high-stepped around the ring as great examples of the quality of the Hackney ponies this year at Louisville. In the end, Nabucco turned back all challengers to earn the title for the second year in a row for owner Mary Campbell. Gib Marcucci drove for the win.


Junior pony Regal’s Trademark earned a first place vote and the reserve world’s title with Jeff McClean driving for Golden Creek Farms. On The Mark and Karen Waldron, General Mills and Gene van der Walt, Fancy Ribbons and Randi Stuart Wightman, Heartland Summer Storm and Geof Dixon and Dun-Haven Radiant Spirit with Mike Herron rounded out the list of ribbon winners.


To set the mood and prepare for the night’s final world’s grand championship battle, a video of previous winners of the Five-Gaited Championship was shown and was a great way to set the stage.


When “My Old Kentucky Home” was played, the crowd rose to their feet and the six entries were introduced. Intoxicating Conversation and Melissa Moore, CH Breaking News and Peter Cowart, The Echo Of Thunder and Merrill Murray, Five O’Clock and Todd Miles, Radiante and Don Harris, and He’s The Man with Smith Lilly all prepared to do battle for a share of the $100,000 prize money.


What started as a terrific class, soon lost some steam as once again a shoe was lost. The Echo Of Thunder had been forced to leave the gelding qualifier earlier in the week when a thrown shoe was unable to be replace. Because there were no more qualifying classes available and the problem was an equipment malfunction, the rules allowed Alice Nunley’s powerful black gelding the right to return for the championship with Merrill Murray. It was an anxious few minutes during the timeout, as the crowd waited to see whether the shoe would be able to be replaced. When Murray remounted, the crowd applauded, happy to see them continue.


Traditionally, the Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship usually has a workout and when the entries lined up to strip for conformational judging, the crowd was expecting a workout to see last year’s reigning champion Five O’ Clock (Select Stock x Long Island Iced Tea) take on the new challenger and winner of the gelding class He’s The Man (CH Man On The Town x Perfect).


The panel of Don Judd, Jimmy Miller and Steve Crabtree however, had already made up their minds and in a surprise move did not call for a workout. The group retired down to the in-gate to await the announcement and when back number 922 was called, it took Smith Lilly a moment to realize he had actually just won the Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship. When Peter Doubleday asked him after the presentation how he felt, Lilly gave a gracious and eloquent acceptance speech thanking his family, friends, competitors and the Shires/Combs family for letting him show their horse in the open championship.


Five O’Clock turned in a rock solid performance with Todd Miles, who rode over to congratulate Lilly on his way to pick up the reserve tricolor for Chris and Jean Nalley. Both first and second place were unanimous decisions by the panel. The Echo Of Thunder was third, followed in the ribbons by CH Breaking News, Intoxicating Conversation and Radiante.


The session closed out a week of competition that was highlighted by incredible quality and quantity of entries and at the same time plagued by timeouts and thrown shoes. It was full of ups and downs, highlights and extra special moments and we’ll all await the chance to do it all again next year.

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