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New England's Premiere Production

W. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Working together as well as any chapter in the country, the Saddlebred, Morgan, Hackney and Friesian members of UPHA Chapter 14 took the momentum gained from last year';s show and turned it into an even better event this year. This twenty-third year of the UPHA Chapter 14 Spring Premiere was also the second year under new manager Kent Moeller.

It had been a long, hard New England winter so the week of April 20-23 many were looking for the fellowship and competition of a horse show. There was greater participation among the New England barns, particularly in the Morgan division, however, the show was blessed with barns from outside the area as well. John Champagne and Ronnie Graham brought a load of Seven Oaks Stables horses from Virginia and had such a successful show they ended up winning the Saddlebred High Point Trainer Award after a tight race with Cricket Hill Farm. Graham's victory pass in the Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake aboard Harlem For President was just one tricolor of many for the Seven Oaks group.

Representing Majestic Oaks, Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon made the long trip from Kentucky with a nice group of ponies to win several classes and add quality and depth to the pony division. Among them was the Road Pony Jackpot Stake with Dun-Haven Awesome Image whose Saturday night performance with Maureen Lydon had them all talking.

$500 Jackpot Stakes are just one of the features that attract both owners and trainers to the Spring Premiere. One is held in each breed division. Jackpot money was awarded in the English Pleasure section for the Morgans and that was won by the talented and expressive new team of WSG Wham O and David Rand. Rand was the High Point Morgan trainer for the second consecutive year. He was in a tight race with Hobby Knoll's Ann Anderson who won the Park Saddle Championship with one of the stars of the show again this year, Grand National Mare and Gelding Champion Grandemeanor.

The Jackpot Stakes attracted good numbers but that was the case in the majority of the classes. There were amateur gaited classes with 10 and 11 entries, amateur park classes in both the Morgan and Saddlebred divisions with 10 plus. Five cob-tails were in one class as were five fine harness horses. These aren't shattering numbers, but extremely healthy in classes and sections with usually lighter entries.

Show chairpersons Chris and Larry Cassenti get a lot of credit for directing the ship the past few years and they were backed up by a hard working committee. Throughout its history this show has taken the lead in innovative ideas and hospitality has also played a major role. Somersdream and Hobby Knoll hosted the moving in pizza party to kick off the week. Barbara Irvine had a hospitality bar every morning with coffee and donuts and for those who were hard at work back at the barns, the smiling faces of Courtney Cahill and Ken Logan made the rounds each morning barn to barn with their hospitality wagon.

A new format for the UPHA 14 Awards/Exhibitor's Party was introduced last year to rave reviews and it was even better this year. It was a night to remember for the 2004 chapter award winners and all party goers. Raye Lynn Funkhouser was again the mistress of ceremonies and she was backed up the popular Boston band Soul Kitchen. Following great food and the presentation of awards, the dance floor filled and remained full until the very last note.

"We're coming back to this show next year for sure," exclaimed Virginia owner Kathy Sterba. "We've never had so much fun at any show."

"This was the best time I've ever had at a show. It was refreshing to go someplace new and then have such a good time," echoed Seven Oaks customer Margot Harwood.

Other features which continue to go over well are the tricolor neck ribbons and victory passes for both the champion and reserve in all of the championship classes. Each morning's quiet time is also set aside for the young riders or young horses who don't need any distractions.

Trying to add elements to the show to make it more entertaining, Jimmy Sebring was the DJ for Friday and Saturday nights piping a variety of rock tunes into the Eastern States Coliseum. Many in the enthusiastic crowd enjoyed the change of pace from the traditional organ music, while others weren't quite as warm to the new concept. Change is always slow in the horse industry.

The quality of show officials matched the quality of stock presented, nearly 575 horses and ponies in all. Ray Krussell made the calls in the Saddlebred and Hackney classes, while David Earehart pinned the Morgan and Friesian champions. They had Billy Whitley directing traffic as ringmaster and Mark Farrar calling the classes as announcer. Bob Moseder was again on hand to take the winning photos.

With an increase in horses came an increase in attendance as well. Beginning with the very first session it was a vocal group who fortunately had plenty to cheer about class after class.

The last cheers of the week came in the $500 Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake. There was an unbelievably tight race for the Highpoint Trainer Award - the award being a nice leather and wool jacket with the horse show's logo on it - and that race came down to the last class.

Among the five entries, Ronnie Graham and Harlem For President were called to the winner's circle, giving owner Jean Heiney the championship title and Graham and Champagne the High Point Trainer title. They had also been victorious in the open class. Winner of the ladies class, She's Out and About was also quite impressive with Jan Lukens riding the reserve grand champion for Louise DeBlois. This bay mare pushed the champion hard. A regular at the UPHA Spring Premiere, Gary Guz rode last year's grand champion CH LA Wing Victory to third place honors. Fighting for that High Point Trainer award, Lisa Jensen finished fourth aboard Callaway's Rhapsody In Blue, reserve winner in the ladies class.

Taking the New England circuit by storm last season, Kate Codeanne and Yes I Have were primed and back for more to start the '05 season. Judge Krussell had them on top in both large amateur gaited classes for Cedarledge Farm. Jean Heiney rode Jack McAllister's Worth Style to take Amateur Five-Gaited Reserve Grand Champion honors as well as a reserve in the amateur qualifier.

The junior exhibitor gaited division was the largest it had been in some time and there was quality to go with it. Reigning world's champion of champions Forty Second Street Gal was again letter perfect to win the championship and qualifier with UPHA Chapter 14 Saddlebred Junior Exhibitor Of The Year Lauren Pyes riding from Cricket Hill Farm. Aboard the big motored All Show, Jessica Moctezuma garnered two reserves for Mary Reising. From the RMD Stables, Geralyn Dexter and Hawkcrest landed a sold third place finish.

Select Fire was named the winner among six entries in the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited class with John Gregory aboard for Gregory Lane Stables. Erin McCracken's Bare Assets was the reserve winner.

Rob Turner had an impressive youngster in UPHA Three-year-Old Five-Gaited Classic Champion Charming Dreams. Owned by Judy Megalich, this daughter of Santana's Charm was a sport. Darlene Trento-Wright rode the reserve champion Starship Enterprize.

The Three-Gaited Championship was the lightest of the stakes but it was a quality filled event. Rob Turner and Holli Ciardiello overcame a death in the family that week for Turner to make a tricolor presentation with Three-Gaited Grand Champion Sightline. They came back very strong after taking reserve to Gary Garone and I'm Sky High in the open qualifier. Only showing in the qualifier, I'm Sky High was just coming off the Three-Gaited Championship and qualifying win at Raleigh Spring to make another world class, mistake free show. Margaret Biggs showed her junior horse back to take reserve grand champion honors. They had also been reserve in the junior/novice class which was won by the new and exciting team of Broadway's Mama Mia and Careen Dubuc.

Part of the Seven Oaks contingent, Margot Harwood and CH SJ Like A Champ turned back all challengers with two convincing shows in the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Marching a strong park trot, Like A Champion was indeed a tricolor performer. They had to be on top of their game as Careen Dubuc and Strapless were right there for reserve every step of the way in both classes. Ladies winner The Cardiac Kid made a sharp show in the qualifier before coming back with a top third in the amateur championship.

Returning to Spring Premiere after their first time to W. Springfield last year, Wentz Stables had a good week including Sultan's Sundowns Kid winning the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Lexie Quarantiello and Eastwood's Prime Time represented High Tail Acres as the reserve grand champions.

Rebecca Materniak and CH Santana's Cheer Me On swept the Three-Gaited Pony Championship and qualifier for trainer Gary Guz. At the top all last year, Gitchigumi Girl and Alexis Taylor Pearson scored two reserves.

A previous winner on the green shavings of Louisville, Desert Supreme Lady would not be denied in the Three-Gaited Park Championship and qualifier as owner Margaret Biggs provided the winning rides from the Jan Lukens Stables. A veteran of top prizes, Undulata's Diamond Jim was the reserve grand champion for Denise Vespa.

Repeating their wins from last year, Emily Hess and Callaway's Smart Angle had the crowd screaming for more as they captured the large Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship. Their closest competitor was the gifted Londonderry, ridden by Jenna Fields from the L.M. Turner Stables. Third place honors went to Smark Angle's stablemate reserve amateur winner The Big Dance, ridden by Rick Daigle.

Among the junior exhibitor park competitors Phoenix Stables' CH M.T. Hopper claimed both the championship and qualifier for Ellen Kipp. Their closest competition came from Lilly Birch and Ultimate steel.

Hanging yet another blue on the Seven Oaks tack room, Janet Sterba rode Horace Taft to win the Junior/Novice Three-Gaited Park class. Rob Turner rode up to accept reserve with Roberta Hirshon's What's Kentucky Rose.

The UPHA Spring Premiere committee was pleased to have a good turnout in the Morgan division this year. After making his saddle debut here last year, Grandemeanor was back for more with Ann Anderson again providing the winning ride for Jan-Marie Bruno. He made a great run at the Park Saddle World Championship last year and looks to be even stronger this year. Tim Lydon and The Silverbrook Surprise have come a long way and they were reserve to Grandemeanor in both classes.

Ann Anderson's Hobby Knoll had a great week which also included the Morgan Amateur Park Saddle Championship and qualifier. Joining Grandemeanor as a Hobby Knoll champ was Fox Glen Hail To Divinity, an entry ridden by Cynthia Fawcett for Rev. Bernard Kelly. Representing Rand, AFF Tailored To Taste was the Amateur Park Saddle Reserve Grand Champion.

Misty Meadow was another Morgan farm with winning results. Under the direction of Jaisen von Ballmoos, Robert Neimeth drove Silverheels Synergy to win the Morgan Park Harness Championship. They topped reserve grand champions FCF Angelo and Rachael Frazier, among others. Open winner Capes Direct Command was third with Jeff Doyle.

There haven't been four Morgan Amateur Park Harness horses at the UPHA Spring Premiere in the last three years combined so it was good to see four go at it in the amateur qualifier. Recipient of the UPHA Chapter 14 Morgan Amateur Of The Year for 2004, Kathy Comeau made the winning drive with Comoshun Avante. They were followed by RFF Stars N Stripes, driven by Steven Handy. In the amateur championship it was turned around with Handy and Stars N Stripes making the last pass from the ring with the tricolor and Avante settling for the reserve title.

This is one of the few shows in the country where the Saddlebreds, Morgans, and Hackneys share equal billing with the addition of a few outside barns and increased participation among the New England exhibitors, the pony classes were more competitive than normal.

Ann Hailey sat behind world's champion Mark Of Elegance and drove to victory in the Harness Pony Championship. Trainer Rodney Hicks made the winning drive in the open class. The New York team of Ryan Fornango and Twin Willow's Dimitri scored reserve ribbons in both rounds.

Sweeping the long tail division, Ann Hailey also drove BRS The Phantom to win the Amateur Harness Pony Championship and qualifier for Copper Beech LLC. Stablemate Dun-Haven Exquisite exited with reserve honors both times out with owner/driver Sharon Francis.

Maureen Lydon took home the UPHA Classic money for long tails as she drove Jim Younker's Fitz's Phantom to the long-tail title with Rich Campbell coaching. Jodi Fisk and Twin Willow's Kaitlyn was reserve for Misty Hills Farm.

There aren't too many shows in the country that will have a better Hackney Pony Championship. From the breeding program of Rudi and Sharon Lewis, the Mr. Hawkeye son Black Merlin marched to his second Hackney Pony Championship of the year with Maureen Lydon at the whip. This black star also made the victory pass in the open class for Majestic Oaks. Pressing the champion was new to the division Megabucks. A former pleasure driving reserve world's champion, Megabucks was right at home in his new division. John Lampropoulos drove Megabucks to the reserve championship for Irene York. Reserve in the open class, Skymark and Rodney Hicks settled in third in the final round.

Hicks, the High Point Hackney Trainer for the third consecutive year, had a lock on the amateur cob-tail division. He directed Nathan Roden and Totally Excellent to the tricolor victory pass with teammates Romeo's Warrior LF and Marjorie Kenney in reserve. The first time out it was Kenney and Romeo's Warrior in the spotlight as the champion and Roden taking reserve.

Right up there for top honors as star of the show was Road Pony Jackpot Grand Champion Dun-Haven Awesome Image. Rich Campbell greeted Awesome Image and Maureen Lydon in the winner's circle following a sizzling performance that even had exhibitors from other breeds talking about it.

Reserve grand champion honors belonged to another nice pony, Heartland Special Special. A former long-tail and pleasure driving world's champion, Special Special was just as nice as a road pony, winning the open class with Graham in the bike for Janet Sterba.

Lydon also had the winning drive with K & J's Aviator in the UPHA Road Pony Classic. Darrell Vaughn was the owner of this young star. Ricky Harris drove Kilbro's Mr Big Stuff to reserve for Robin Vuillermet.

The Garone family's Fairfield South excelled in the Saddlebred, equitation and pony sections. They guided Rusty Morrison and Heartland Yankee Strutter to the winner's circle of the Amateur Road Pony Championship. Right on their heels for the reserve championship were the Cricket Hill Farm duo, Dun-Haven Highly Impressive and Brody Flynn. Third in the six-pony championship, Mastercraft's Gambler and Joan Sylvester had won the amateur qualifier.

A juvenile led the way in the Hackney Pleasure Driving Championship. Lilly Birch piloted Oh Happy Day to win the top honors as they did in the junior exhibitor qualifier. Voted the UPHA 14 Hackney Pony Of The Year for 2004, Model Of Excellence was the reserve grand champion with Dawn DelTorchio. In their only performance of the week, Match Maker and Carolyn Daigle won the adult qualifier coming off the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship at the Raleigh Spring Premier.

Adding yet another winning ribbon to Rick Campbell and Maureen Lydon's tack room, Prissy Devil was the UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Classic Champion with Janine LaSalle catch driving. Kyle Gagnon presented Heartland Country Cousin for reserve honors.

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