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Opening Night at the 100th Anniversary World's Championship Horse Show

Sunday Evening

Hosting the celebration for the 100th Anniversary of the World’s Championship Horse Show, Freedom Hall was buzzing with excitement. Opening night had many elements of show’s past: 30-plus babies in the Kentucky Weanling Futurity, a host of County Fair champions crowned, the crowd picking up on horses lower in the ribbons, and some personal milestones for exhibitors.

Going into the history books as the first world’s champion crowned at the 100th Anniversary, Smith Lilly presented Silver Harbor (The Irish Connection x A Foxy Decision) for longtime owner/breeder Sue Nifong. The winning team received over $12,000 for their efforts. Always at the top of the baby classes, Joe T. Smith led Hale Yea! (Ramona’s Hale-Bop x Spirited Lady) for reserve honors and a $6,150 pay out for owners Kevin Hatfield and David Jampsa.

Before the next class came in announcer Peter Fenton asked everyone to rise as a film presentation was played overhead as part of the week-long celebration. Oohs and aahs came from the seats as an array of past greats were shown on the jumbotron to the backdrop of God Bless America. When the pictures for CH Imperator and CH Sky Watch were shown side by side applause went up for appreciation of arguably the two greatest rivals the breed has ever known. This was the way to start a horse show!

In only their third class together, Heidi Bowie and Heartland Triple Crown put on a tricolor performance from start to finish in the Kentucky County Fair Harness Pony Championship. With a unanimous decision, the Pat McConnell trained team turned back challenges from a veteran group including Elise Johnson and Old Memories who finished in reserve under the direction of Chris Gantley.

A pair of black mares battled it out with six others in the Junior Fine Harness Mare Stake. The winning nod went to the Simbara’s Rising Son daughter, Simbara’s Sweet Lorraine. Nelson Green was at the whip for the Wheeler partnership of Kenneth Sr., Kenneth Jr., and Douglas. Chuck Herbert and Harlem’s Santa Fe received a nice round of applause for their reserve finish representing owner Susan Bartlett.

For the second consecutive year Lisa Strickland and CH The Super Nova ruled the Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 Stake. The Supreme Heir son defeated a grand group of campaigners including reserve world’s champions Steel In Love and Fran Crumpler as well as third place finishers Bayou Belle and Kim Cowart, and fourth place winners Rosemarie Fernandez and Pas De Deux.

Winning her first personal world’s title, Elise Johnson gave General Mills a great drive to take the Kentucky County Fair Hackney Pony Championship under the direction of Chris Gantley. They were followed by the Golden Creek team of Mary Gaylord McClean and Heartland Elise.

Repeating a win from a few years back, CF Burn Out was crowned the Kentucky County Fair Three-Gaited Champion. This time it was Renee Biggins in the irons for Rita Wheeler. Clark Clouse was right in the thick of the battle taking a reserve championship home with Elmo Greer’s Promise Me Fame.

As they have done many times before Golden Creek Farms took home the roses from the Kentucky County Fair Road Pony Championship. Jeff McClean guided Sis to the winner’s circle where they were greeted by trainer Tom Lowry. Continuing their stellar evening Winding Creek Farm picked up the reserve title with Chris Gantley in the silks behind Mankato.

The action really heated up in the 19-horse Open Three-Gaited Park Mare class. Emerging from the pack victorious was the beautiful Desert’s Supreme Admiral daughter, Desert’s Supreme Lady. Virgil Helm made the winning presentation for Katrina Wood. Steve Wheeler presented Naughty for Cindy Maloney to take the reserve streamers. John Field and Go Baby Go had their share of good passes to take the third prize. The first of the enthusiastic crowd responses for horses not at the very top went to Robert Gardiner and the flaxen mane and tail mare Square Dance who placed seventh. It’s been a memorable year for the young MBA trainer.

It was an emotional moment for Dena Lopez as she and Sass With Class were called out as the winners of the Kentucky County Fair Fine Harness Championship for the second consecutive year while representing New Millennium Equine Endeavors. They were pushed every step of the way by reserve winners With Authority and Ronnie Graham.

There were some heavy hitters competing for the ladies under 15.2 title setting up what is sure to be some kind of championship class. Of the 13 entries, Erin Boggs and To Die For were crowned the champions. This is the second consecutive year the Cape Cod team represented Dr. James and Kristen Campbell in the winner’s circle. Last year’s ladies world’s grand champion, CH Lady Periana marched to the reserve title with Phillipa Sledge again in the irons. They were followed by Chris Field and the multi-titled CH Rejoice who placed just ahead of Carolina’s Top Gun and Sold Out Show.

Debbie Foley added another Kentucky County Fair Roadster To Bike Championship to her long list of accomplishments. Tonka Wombli Farm’s The Dark Side was the victor. Danette Musselman and and Valiant sailed to the reserve championship.

Winners at Midwest and the Blue Ridge Classic this year, Gabe Deknatel and Callaway’s Weatherman came in ready for action in the Amateur Gentlemen’s Five-Gaited class. They had nine other teams trying to knock them off their 2002 and 2001 titles but it wouldn’t happen on this night. The High Hickory/Carriage Lane team was again victorious. William Walsh and Callaway’s Where There’s A Will were the closest to the champions.

With 16 Junior Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding entries the class was split. It was a memorable night for Bret and Susi Day as Bret took his first personal Louisville blue home driving In Touch to the title in section A for the A.E. Nelson family. Robert Gardiner was back in action guiding Star Spangled Steel, a former in hand champion, to the reserve title.

Many will remember the performance given by Long-Vue’s Sophisticat three years ago as a yearling. He captured his second world’s championship with section B of the junior stallions and geldings. Beautifully turned out, Ruth Gimpel was the winning driver for Helen Rosburg. Larry Hodge presented a top bay colt by the name of Lakeview’s Rare-A-Phi for the reserve honors.

That left one class on the evening schedule. Ten entries came through the gate for the Kentucky County Fair Five-Gaited Championship. Master showman Don Harris took the top money riding Lucrative for Karla Kucera. They were followed by Melissa Moore and The Full Monty, an entry for Belle Reve Farm.

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