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Midwest Charity – “Best Of Show”

by Bob Funkhouser

SPRINGFIELD, Ill - Manpower, dedication, and pride make for an incredible combination when it comes to putting on a first rate horse show. Voted the UPHA National Honor Show for the past two years, Midwest Charity has done it again.

The roots which give this life are deep and strong. This was the 64th edition and several of the people involved have been around for decades starting with show manager Paul Briney who joined the Midwest board in 1969 and has been manager since 1984. Chairman of the board Patrick Antonacci has seen the show develop into one of the country’s top four as well. His family has grown up with the show and continues to play a major role.

President Judy Kjellander is one of those tireless people who sees the big picture and has the drive to get it done. Her Springfield connections run deep as evidenced by the great publicity the show received both in print and on television. A Morgan and Hackney exhibitor, Kjellander has a great group of directors which includes horsemen and women from various walks of life: David Antonacci, Patrick Antonacci, Phillip Bisch IV, Paul Briney, Janice Lee Buecker, J. Christopher Curry, Carole Kennedy, Susan Kerr, Jeff McClean, Karl Luthin, Margaret Strano, Marjorie Strano, Marilyn Webber and Glenn Werry.

You take a group of people with the equine knowledge and skills of the above group and put them with the best overall facility in the country and it is a recipe for success. Exhibitors came from all parts of the country. It’s a big time horse show without the pressures of Lexington, Northampton, Louisville or Oklahoma. The Saddlebreds, Hackneys and roadsters have long been at the top level and this year the Morgan division had its best showing ever with several world class barns and horses participating. That's what makes this show even more special, the fact that it showcases the three primary breeds which make up the United Professional Horsemen’s Association. It was a showcase of equine talent at its best.

Trainers and owners will bring their best stock to a show with great facilities and hospitality. The state of Illinois puts most others to shame when it comes to keeping up and supporting its horse show facilities. On top of that, the show committee provides its nightly dinner parties with great food and fun.

“We are grateful to the Department of Agriculture, their grounds crew, and their affiliates for the clean and beautifully maintained fairgrounds,” stated Judy Kjellander, president of the Midwest Charity Horse Show. “With our wide-spread community support this year, from the Mayor and other officials attending the ribbon cutting to the extensive media coverage, and generous in-kind local donations, we were able to provide the exhibitors with even more spectators and community outreach. Springfield certainly rolled out the welcome mat this year for those who attended the show. To each and every trainer, exhibitor, and sponsor we say thank you for 2005.”

Midwest has always been an innovator for doing things for the exhibitor and this year’s brainstorm was met with great enthusiasm. The show committee had the judges vote on a horse or pony which they thought exemplified the “Best Of Show.” It was to be a horse or pony who stood out in its division as the outstanding representative of its breed.

On Saturday evening in center ring right after Raymond and Lillian Shively has just been recognized for their 50th wedding anniversary, DeLovely customer Mary Jane Fredrickson was asked to join them. It was Fredrickson’s Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Champion Can You Hear Me Now who was awarded Best of Show. Fredrickson received a beautiful trophy which was filled with five crisp $100 bills. Later that night Todd Miles put the icing on the cake for DeLovely Farm as he won the Five-Gaited Championship with Theresa Vonderschmitt’s Freaky Links.

The DeLovely team had a great week with championships in every division possible. Another Best of Show moment came when Raymond Shively put the ailing roadster legend Pres Oder behind world’s champion Big Red. Shively had the time of his life putting Oder into the ring and watching him win the Roadster To Bike Championship and qualifier, both to standing ovations from a misty eyed audience.

Best of Show was hard to determine as the line-up of horses and ponies was like a Who’s Who. Barbara Goodman Manilow and Richard Obenauf teamed up to present several outstanding champions including Boo!, Callaway’s Sugar Plum and Marching Orders. John Conatser presented last year’s three-year-old champion Coco Loco to win the Fine Harness Championship and open qualifier in most impressive fashion. Then you had the Texas team of My Chanel and Owen Weaver winning the Ladies Five-Gaited Championship and qualifier in two of their best performances to date. In the junior exhibitor ranks, Rachel North and New York Showtime ate up the ring in the junior exhibitor qualifier, their only performance of the week.

Golden Creek Farms came with their guns loaded in the Hackney division. The veteran world’s grand champions were joined by two new youngsters that have star material written all over them. Neon Deon and Beaulah Jean won their respective UPHA Classics in style.

This year the Midwest circuit has been a hotbed for amateur road ponies, mainly world’s champions Heartland Sundust, Heartland Victory Maker, and Seamair Strutter. These three have gone head to head in six classes so far this year and the results seem to change with each class. Seamair Strutter and Mike Schallock emerged as the amateur grand champions in this round.

Morgan exhibitors were also on hand with their Oklahoma stock. Diane Conrady showed the Saddle Horse and Hackney exhibitors what a world class Morgan was all about. She presented last year’s Two-Year-Old Park Harness World Champion SpiceOLife Present Tense to win the UPHA Morgan Park Harness Classic title.

Kurt Hufferd and Shana Gish also had a large string of top shelf performers. Among their world champion line up, JW Raire Review, Long Acres Broadway, MEM The Patriot, and Dragonsmeade Virtuoso all landed Midwest titles. Other leading Morgan trainers such as Stan Bodnar, Larry Bonnell, Phil Fountain, John Hufferd and Jim Lowry all brought blue ribbon winners. Lowry was also a crossover, having shown the crowd-pleasing Harlem’s Irish Dancer to a reserve in the ASB Junior Park class.

Mary Jane Fredrickson’s three-year-old Can You Hear Me Now was named Best of Show and he was one of many, many outstanding young horses. After sweeping the young horse scene at Madison, Tom Scott was just as effective in the deep waters of the Midwest Charity. Linkin Park was again a standout as the UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic Champion. Stablemate Indigo Joe was the talk of the junior gaited class and Callaway’s My Special Someone was again a UPHA Park Pleasure Classic Champion. Scott also brought home the UPHA Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Classic Championship with Callaway’s Wanna Bet. To top it off, Scott sold Linkin Park and Indigo Joe before the week was over. Lynda Freseth grabbed the other UPHA Classic (Fine Harness) with last year’s reserve world’s champion His Supreme Reflection.

Another guy having a tremendous year with young horses is John Willis. Assisted by Alvaro Zanella, Willis and Miracle On Forty-Second Street paraded down the Midwest straightaway to capture her second Two-Year-Old Fine Harness title in as many outings. She had the Illinois State Fairgrounds buzzing with her charismatic performance. The harness division was incredibly strong from top to bottom as Carter Cox and Sugar Pine were on hand to win the Junior Fine Harness blue against some tough competition.

Some of the industry’s top training barns were on hand to show open horses and young stock. Kalarama Farm made a repeat visit from Kentucky to win the Three-Gaited Championship with The Engraver and the Open Park Championship with Kalarama Shiraz, both entries of Elisabeth Goth.

As good as the trainers’ horses and ponies were, this was an amateur/ladies show out of this world. The Amateur Fine Harness Championship was as good as it gets with the likes of CH Kalarama’s New Sensation, Lady Maya, Simbara’s Exclamation, and Harlem’s Santa Fe taking the top four prizes. In the Amateur Ladies Five-Gaited Championship it was Boo!, Carolina Cat, and Already Famous as the top three. Then go to the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship which featured open world’s grand champion CH Callaway’s Forecaster and Nancy Fisher. They were followed by Time Well Spent in reserve and Bill Marple’s new star, Enzo, in third. Enzo was reserve to the multi-titled world’s champion Adelita in the amateur gentlemen’s class.

Amateur roadster drivers also made for a thrilling week. Judy McNeish has gathered a large following with her driving prowess and she turned it on with world’s champion Invincible Summer, even surviving a mishap by a fellow driver to get back in the wagon and make the victory pass. You also had world class drivers and entries like Brad Bacon with Delorenzo and The African Queen and Deborah Butler with Dirt Devil making victory passes.

Do you think it was hard to get a good prize in the Amateur Park Championship? CH A Step Of Time, New York Style, and CH The Super Nova rounded out the top three. There was a list of world and national titles among those three long enough to pave the Springfield, Ill., fairgrounds.

Pleasure stars included CH Callaway’s Capitol Reporter, CH Harlem’s Strong Will, CH Ninety-Eight Degrees, May Issue, Forever Aptor, Titleist Symbol, CH Callaway’s Pretty Penny, The Mystery Machine and CH Midtown Man. Again, the titles among this group are most impressive. The championship riders from the equitation ranks included Ashley Alden, Ellen Medley Wright, Kelsey Nicole Smith and Belle Owen and they represented Royal Scot Stables, DeLovely Farm, Knollwood Farm and Cascade Stables.

The diversity of trainers and exhibitors from all parts of the country is what keeps this show so refreshing. It’s not the same regional trainers beating up on each other year after year. Saddlebred/pony judges Hoppy Bennett, Jimmy Miller, and Melinda Moore had a job from start to finish as did Luman Wadhams in the Morgan division. Also part of the official center ring family were ringmasters Bill Whitley and Terry Jones Brennan; photographer Doug Shiflet; announcer Tuffy Owens; and organist Groff Bittner.

These officials joined the 2005 show committee to give Midwest yet another Best of Show year.

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