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Louisville - Sunday Night

The Saddlebred, Hackney and roadster communities made the trek to Louisville, Ky., from all parts of the country, Canada and South Africa for their most anticipated week of the year. Friendships were renewed, hellos were said and then the competitive atmosphere took over as the clock approached 6:30 p.m. and the call for the first of 240 scheduled classes for the week, nine of them tonight.

On this opening night of the 107th World’s Championship Horse Show the program featured the usual fare, ASR Futurities for the babies and Kentucky County Fair Championships. When it was all over it proved to be a good night for Willowbank Farm, Sir William Robert, Golden Creek Farms, Toni Nastali and Rob Byers; they all had multiple titles of some form or fashion.

After a moment of silence for the recently deceased members of the show horse family, including long-time World’s Championship Horse Show manager Bill Munford, tonight’s first event had 20 weanlings on the green shavings for more than $19,000 in the ASR Futurity Of Kentucky. Weanlings from breeding operations both large and small filled the ring, however, judges John Champagne, Michael Craghead and Kathy Boggs all agreed it was the leg-waving Kathy Capsuto-Walker owned Sir Surreal (Sir William Robert x Harlem’s Irish Lass) that belonged in the winner’s circle to receive a check for $9,650 and the title of World’s Champion. Joan Lurie and Darrell Case made the winning presentation as they did for last year’s weanling world’s champion. Of course Sir Surreal’s sire is the celebrated world’s champion Sir William Robert and his dam is a sister to Capsuto-Walker’s great mare CH Dancing Up A Storm LCC. The audience also showed its appreciation for the reserve champion, MBA’s Cary’s Girl. Blood does tell as this finely chiseled filly presented by Antonio Hernandez and Scott Matton is sired by Sir William Robert and out of Margo Baird-Valentine’s beloved mare, CH Cary’s Moonraker. She earned $4,825 for her performance.

A little over $2,400 and the yellow streamers went to Nuts About Me. The sires for the top three stand at Willowbank as this Ceil and Kenny Wheeler entry is by Undulata’s Nutcracker out of Ceil’s former walk-trot star, Victoria Lynn. Smith Lilly was the handler for Nuts About Me.

The first performance class of 2010 was the Kentucky County Fair Fine Harness Championship and this was really a nice class of harness horses although it looked like they would never get to the finish line as there were three time outs; two for overchecks and one for a slipped crupper. This proved to be a comeback performance for Cherished King and Mary McClean as they were reserve last year after having won the class in 2008. Melissa Moore joined them in the winner’s circle for yet another blanket of roses for the King Of Highpoint son. Bret Day and CH Revolver came with their A-game to earn the reserve title for Dr. Chip Pugh. Revolver and Day were followed by last year’s winners Melinda Moore and Legend Of Troy.

Golden Creek Farms won their second title of the night as Jeff McClean drove the athletic, jet-black Twin Willow’s Handsome Dan to the County Fair Harness Pony title. This gifted stallion has had a great year with both Jeff and Mary McClean showing. His full brother, the white-faced, leg pumping 2009 Kentucky County Fair winner and reserve world’s grand champion The Remington (Twin Willows McMillan x Twin Willow’s Arianna by Vindicator) was the reserve champion tonight with Rich Campbell escorting owner/driver Juliet McDonald from the ring. It would be hard to find any Kentucky County Fair championship with two better entries.

A world’s champion two and three-year-old for Tre´ Lee, five-year-old Paranormal returned to the Freedom Hall winner’s circle with Lee, this time as the Kentucky County Fair Three-Gaited Grand Champion. The gray, nearly white, son of Deep Blue earned all three first place votes for Lee and owners Karen Thornhill and Betty Costopolos. Just a junior horse, Hollywood Affair was the reserve champion with Chris Reiser riding for Ed Rhoads.

Toni Nastali once again worked her magic in the Kentucky County Fair Road Pony Championship,  her first title with The Wizard LF. In 2008, she took the last pass with Heartland Victory Maker. Always a class act but always extremely competitive, Nastali put the hammer down to take this one. Maureen Campbell made the long run to the other end greeting the champions in the winner’s circle. Heartland Sundust has probably made as many victory passes at Louisville as any pony showing today and tonight he was pushing hard for another title to come away with reserve grand champion honors for Hackney enthusiast Beth Jones.

Spectators settled in as 19 yearlings competed for the ASR Futurity Of Kentucky title and a large paycheck. Judges Champagne, Boggs and Marilyn Macfarlane asked to see 6 of the 19 for a second time before they made their decision. When the cards were turned in it proved to be a night of firsts. Owned by Fischer Sisters LLC, I’m First Born defeated 18 challengers for the world’s champion title and first place money of $9,650. He was presented by Mark and Whitney Bodnar, noted Morgan trainers making their first appearance in Freedom Hall. This was also I’m First Born’s multi-titled World’s Champion sire, I’m First’s first world’s champion. The flaxen mane and tail star is out of Simbara’s Cara Mia, a full sister to World’s Grand Champion CH A Sweat Treat and that entire famous family by Merchant Prince out of Hall Of Fame broodmare Denmark’s Radiant Society. Adding to the story this evening, Cara Mia won this very class back in 1995 with Carter Cox showing for owner/breeder Dr. Simon Fredricks.

A reserve world’s champion title and check for $4,825 went to Bump In The Night (At Night x CF Chief’s Happy Days), another star directed by Ramon Gomez for Blythewood Farm. Gomez and Blythewood have teamed up for many futurity titles over the years. Also making a bid for top honors, Soquili’s Jim Bob (Undulata’s Nutcracker x Santana’s Oh My Stars! RR) put on a nice performance to take the yellow streamers for Joan Lurie and Soquili Stables LLC.

Five entries competed for the Kentucky County Fair Roadster To Bike Championship. A winner of two County Fair titles last year for Marcy Lafferty, Melinda Moore grabbed another one this year with her own Talladega Nights. They hit the ring with the left tire of the bike making a terrible, squeaky noise and it continued through the class. Moore was constantly looking down at the tire but it didn’t prove to be a problem. With a big Freedom Hall fan club, Jennifer Robertson and Rum’s Last Shot, a former Kentucky County Fair Grand Champion, collected the reserve champion streamers with her proud dad Jimmy Robertson standing at the outgate cheering them on as they exited the ring.

Majestic Oaks Hackney Farm got their first win of the week in the Kentucky County Fair Hackney Pony Championship. It was also Toni Nastali’s second win of the night. Changing from her silks to a beautiful outfit, Nastali presented Heartland Rough and Ready(Heartland Code Of Honor x Heartland Ruby Red) to the tricolor and blanket of roses, something this pony is used to wearing as he was last year’s Junior Hackney Pony World’s Champion Of Champions and UPHA Hackney Pony Classic Grand Champion. Another world titleholder, Heartland Elise gave Golden Creek Farms their third title of the evening as the reserve grand champion with Jeff McClean. It also gave Darrel and Sandy Kolkman’s breeding program the one-two sweep of the class.

The evening closed with a very competitive 11-horse Kentucky County Fair Five-Gaited Championship. Well-known campaigners were racking and trotting up a storm but in the end it was Lexington Junior League’s Five-Gaited Mare Reserve Champion, Treasure The Warmth (County Treasure x Warming Trend) receiving the roses with Rob Byers in the saddle for owners Rosemarie and Lou Fernandez. Rob brought out Face Card’s tail switch for the grand champion; the first horse to use it since Byers retired the great Face Card. It was also the second consecutive year for Byers to win this class. When Tammy DeVore is showing a gaited horse you know she’s going to be going all out and you know the crowd is going to be behind her. That happened again tonight as she piloted Martha Pope’s 2008 Kentucky County Fair Grand Champion Thunderstorm Warning to the reserve prize with a large round of applause. Third in this good class belonged to Lexington’s Five-Gaited Stallion Champion, Lakeview’s Rare A Phi, with Sam Stafford riding for Hillcroft Farm. Battle Rattle and Billy Jarrell finished fourth for Betty Jarrell.

Round two of the World’s Championship Horse Show will begin tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. with division one of the Country Pleasure Driving class.

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