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Prairie State Classic Hosts A Classic Competition

BELVIDERE, Ill. - Just as its name implies, the Prairie State Classic is held at a lovely old time country fairgrounds with spacious barns and a nice big white-railed show ring. The ring was enhanced by the show committee setting up tables with umbrellas as ringside box seats with baskets full of candy at each table. The setting and the atmosphere made for a fun and relaxing weekend on June 7-9. The weather was also ideal with temperatures in the mid 80's.

Cliff Swanson of Castle Rock, Colo. officiated in all of the classes. Howard Behl served as steward while Bridget Intravartolo was secretary. Gail Kelce handled the managerial duties for the show which added National Show Horse classes to the already existing slate of Morgan classes.

The show got off to a great start on Friday afternoon with a good showing of entries in the In Hand classes. Many time champion NBN Valentino was Grand Champion Gelding under the ownership of William Woods University. CHF Spirit Of Excellence posed as Reserve Grand Champion Gelding with owner Lois McDermand.

Gail Kelce was delighted with her lovely Fancy That Summer Aire winning Grand Champion Mare shown by Kelce's daughter Becky Gruenberg. The promising young filly Cosmos Sweet Wish picked up the Reserve Grand Champion Mare title for Susie Weiss.

UVM Gordon struck the winning pose in the Grand Champion Stallion competition for Bob and Laurie Sim. Susie Weiss was back with Cosmos Renegade for the Reserve Grand Champion Stallion honors.

Following Friday's classes, the Annual Blind Buggy Race was held. It was a spirited competition with more entries than many of the actual classes. The Bodnar boys clearly showed their driving experience by making a clean round of the obstacles and recording the best time. Mark was in the lead with Whitney giving the commands. A welcome party followed the race, and a good time was enjoyed by all.

The performance championships began with the Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship where the Merriehill trained team of KSB Momentum and Jennifer Kesseler earned top honors for Cingate Morgans. The cute bay and his young rider exhibited ring savvy in the crowded class to win the tricolor. Rustic V Twilite Sensatn' and Jennifer Keberlein came away with the strong reserve award.

A competitive Junior Exhibitor English Pleasure Championship featured the team of Danica Alexander and Troutbrook Tapdancer earning the tricolor for trainer Andy Marlett following the qualifier win as well. The reserve tricolor honors went to Brittany Balletto and the darling Tedwin Topic son, R-Royale Topic. This was Brittany's first time showing in the junior exhibitor division, and this Merriehill team will be one to watch for.

Continuing in the Merriehill vein for a minute, Stan Bodnar and BLFM Best Evidence were the big winners in the Pleasure Driving Championship. The youngster showed a lot of ring savvy in her first time out. Fancy That Summer Aire continued her tricolor show with the reserve finish presented by Jennifer Kelce.

If some of the divisions at Prairie State were a little light on entries, the same could not be said of the classes that made up the hunter division. Susan Schrodt and her lovely bay mare Clonmel Leading Heiress won their qualifier and went on to earn the Hunter Pleasure Championship with six entries. Becky Gruenberg was aboard the sleek Granada's Infiniti for the reserve finish for Jim Miller.

Gruenberg was back railside to coach her equitation rider Katherine Rank who displayed poise and elegance to win the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship aboard Becky's sister's old equitation mount, Moroso. William Woods University student Jennifer Stracke rode the fronty Chaos to the reserve tricolor finish.

The Classic Pleasure Driving Championship was won by another Merriehill team member, Nicole Peterson and Baby Ruth MHF. Baby Ruth enjoyed a cupcake after her winning drive at her sixth birthday party. Busy Signal and Ellen Collins drove away with the reserve streamers.

With so many classes leading up to the English Pleasure Championship, you just knew it was going to be a big class. Merriehill Talk The Talk was expertly shown by Stan Bodnar to with the tricolor ribbon for Merriehill Farm. The pairing of Heartland Timeless and Andrea LaDue turned in the reserve tricolor showing.

Prairie State Classic was a lovely show and a truly fun time with the Welcome Party, Blind Buggy Race and Pig Roast. The show committee members did their best to make everyone feel at home and appreciated.

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