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Respectable Finish For 18th KY Spring Premier


by Bob Funkhouser


LEXINGTON, Ky. - It doesn’t seem possible that this was the 18th Kentucky Spring Premier. It also doesn’t seem possible that the local horsemen let this early season gathering fall flat on its face on this, one of the most special weekends for the horse world. Never mind all of the national media was focused 70 miles to the west for the annual running of the Kentucky Derby, the world renowned Kentucky Horse Park was bustling with activity as well over the weekend of May 2-4. The only problem was that activity wasn’t centered around the show arena.


The Kentucky Spring Premier and the Kentucky Derby have played on the same card for years and as it became apparent that many of the Saddlebred, Hackney and roadster community would rather attend the Derby than show their horses on Saturday night, the show committee adjusted the schedule for the exhibitors. In an attempt to accommodate those who wanted to do both, the show was moved back a day with the performance championships ending on Friday evening, leaving only some academy classes on Saturday morning. That move got everyone out of there in time to attend their Derby festivities.


Show Chairman Chuck Walker has poured his heart and soul into this event and his group of officials are all on the top end of the spectrum starting with show manager Scarlett Mattson, show secretary Beth Snider, stable manager Scott Snider, photographer Doug Shiflet, organist Gene Wright and videographer Richfield Video. In addition to ringmaster Charles Wilson and announcer Craig Hubbuch, all of these professionals made for a smooth run event which for whatever reason(s) lacked a significant number of horses and spectators.


In fact, since the Kentucky Spring Premier became a rated show and went to a three-judge system, there were many times, if you counted the learner judge, when there were more judges in the ring -and photographers in the stands - than horses showing in a class.


“I was disappointed in the turnout.  We are evaluating the show and trying to find out what we need to do to fix it and make it better,” Walker said.


Where was Kentucky? Many opinions were offered to explain the lackluster turnout and they were as varied as their authors. “People don’t like showing at the Horse Park facility. Going to USEF rated made it too expensive. Moving the dates back made it hard for junior exhibitors to show because they can’t miss school at this time of the year.” There were many.


It wasn’t all doom and gloom, there were several exceptionally nice horses. They just didn’t have a lot of company. Friday night’s turnout in both horses and spectators saved the weekend and made for the most entertaining session of the three-day stretch.


Judges Brooke Jacobs, Sally Lindabury and Jay Wood had three really nice horses in front of them for the show’s finale, the Five-Gaited Stake. Last year’s history-making Junior Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions According To Lynn made her season debut still teamed with her amateur owner Mary McClean. It was a yeah-boy kind of performance for the Callaway’s Born To Win daughter as she took the tricolor victory pass with Rob Byers escorting them from the ring.


With his white legs flying Zara Spook did his best to make a bid for the championship title. Melissa Moore was having fun rackin’ and trottin’ the colorful gelding to the reserve championship for Dr. Wendy Troyer. Adding to the excitement, The Big Show and Mike Spencer finished in third for Minna Hankin Mintz.


Right at the top of the list for the most competitive class of the whole show, Friday night’s Roadster To Bike Stake featured five drivers in their silks. The blue and gold silks of Diamond View Farm were called to the winner’s circle with new Versailles resident Matt Shiflet in the bike behind the powerful Cosmical. Adding to his long list of top horses it looked like Danny Bugg had another one. After winning the Limit Roadster To Bike class with Sky Tower, he was back to take reserve champion honors with a strong showing. Mike Felty and Fed Ex were in the mix with a third place finish.


Steve Wheeler led the way in the Park Pleasure Championship with an eye-catching campaigner owned and bred by Lenore Farms. Lenore’s Prairie Whoopster was light with his legs to win the Park Pleasure Championship and open qualifier. Keith Harger and Nip’s Sky High rode out with the reserve championship after qualifying with a reserve in the well-filled Novice Park Pleasure class. Rob Tanner and Everybody Loves Raymond won that one.


T.J. and Georgia Blevins continue to be some of the most grateful exhibitors around. Just the week coming into the Spring Premier their son, Chris, had been shot in an attempted robbery on his business and then just two days after the Spring Premier their Bowling Green, Ky., house burnt down. Chris was extremely lucky in that the gun shot wounds didn’t cause any permanent damage; however, the family’s pet poodle wasn’t so fortunate in the house fire.


In between those two personal tragedies, Dr. Blevins was thankful Chris was alive and that “we’re able to be here and enjoy our ponies and friends.”


There was great enjoyment as Georgia Blevins put Lamborghini in overdrive to pass the competition on the way to the winner’s circle in the Roadster Pony Stake. It was a repeat performance from their open class blue, also directed by Rich Campbell and Maureen Lydon at Majestic Oaks. Chad Cole and Seamair’s Nobility traded places with John Maloney and Turbo Blue for the reserve champion streamers.


There wasn’t a lot of competition for them but that didn’t stop Boston Legal and Elizabeth Shatner from taking the stand with a convincing closing argument for the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship. Trainer Tré Lee also had them well prepared for the open class victory pass.  Riding for Crabtree Farm, Tate Bennett piloted Suddenly Single to the reserve amateur championship.


Like several Premier Stables customers, Rosemarie Fernandez took advantage of the Kentucky Spring Premier to test our her new star and get back in the flow with the 2006 Ladies Three-Gaited National Champion CH Pas de Deux. I’m Royalty Too was her newcomer in the Ladies Five-Gaited class.


Redd Crabtree did his part to support the show by bringing Martin Gueldner and Blackie’s Rising Star back on Friday night as the lone team in the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship. Lakeview’s Rare A Phi was solo in the amateur qualifier. Bruce Williams and Thunderstorm Warning topped four others for the Limit Five-Gaited Amateur Rider blue.


A second-generation exhibitor, Cory Vetter guided She’s Fancy Free to the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship. The Walnut Way Farm trained combination finished second in the qualifier behind Stonecroft Rumor Has It and Ali Judah. Paige McQuown and Victory’s Lady Fox finished the week as the reserve grand champions.


Eddie Cockriel had a blue ribbon ride aboard Novice Five-Gaited Champion Opinionated. Linda Fischer owned this Kentucky Spring Premier winner. Matt Shiflet and I’m Fantabulous scored the red streamers.


No matter what part of the country you’re in, but especially in Kentucky, the produce of the late Randy Tabor continue to take the spotlight. One of a few Tabor-bred winners at the Horse Park was Roseridge’s All Mine, Junior Five-Gaited Champion for Tammy DeVore and owner Rachel Kelley. A world champion in harness last year, Stonecroft Sincerely was reserve with Chantel Coetzee in the first performance as a gaited horse.


A reserve world’s champion last year in the two-year-old walk-trot division, Just Heavenly made a nice transition to UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic Champion with Tré Lee aboard for John T. Jones.


World titleholders went head to head in the gaited pony competition with Callaway’s Exception To The Rule and Alexa McWilliams taking the title over Our Sonflower and Caroline Walker.


Riverdreams LLC has had a good spring so far. Their entry, Helen’s Charm, paraded as the Three-Gaited Stake Champion with Tre Lee aboard. Just a week earlier Worthy’s World To Know won the UPHA 14 Spring Premiere Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake with Rob Turner riding.


Helen’s Charm had three competitors including reserve stake champions MJB High Fire and Chantel Coetzee. They were riding for Mr. and Mrs. Hector Newton while representing the Nelson Green Stables.


Kentucky Spring Premier offers just about everything. Laura Lee Samford won the Limit Three-Gaited Amateur Rider class. Also making victory passes in the walk-trot ranks were New York Star and Samantha Johnson (junior exhibitor), Last Tango In Paris and Clark Clouse (novice), Callaway’s Connotation with Tré Lee (junior), and Joe Elam aboard Join In The Dance (three-year-old).


Mom and dad were on hand to cheer for Ashley Biggins as she made the victory pass in the Three-Gaited Pony class with Lost Token. Molly Trent’s Powerful Tango took reserve honors.


In the park division Suzanne Hubbard and She’s Electric came back uncontested after Heather Digiannantonio and Our Fallen Angel had won the three-horse qualifier.


There were three in the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship. Coming from the winner’s circle of the Limit Three-Gaited Park Amateur Rider class, Mary Jane Peebles and Pistolero added another tricolor to the Premier Stables tack room drapes. Amateur qualifying winners The Lady’s Heir and Lynn Gutches Snowden were one of the few out of state teams as well as amateur reserve grand champions.


Teamed with John T. Jones, Tre Lee was called to the winner’s circle time and time again. One of many trips belonged to Far Away Kisses, winner of the Junior Three-Gaited Park class for Brad and Barbara Bacon. Mike Spencer and longtime owner Minna Hankin Mintz provided the reserve champion in Dancing With The Stars.


Riding for the Felty/Biggins partnership, Renee Biggins took home the top paycheck from the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic with the appropriately named Worthy Big Budget. Jackie Tanner and Brookhill’s Kool As Ice earned the reserve money,


There were four single entry fine harness classes over the three days. A Spur Of The Moment, Laurel Hill Pennies From Heaven, Periaptus Infinitus and Gothic Revival were those contestants.


Part of a pretty good roadster division, All Glory and William Shatner looked to be in mid-season form with an extremely strong performance to win the amateur class. Reserve winners Rum’s Last Shot and Jennifer Robertson were among two teams putting the pressure on. Also wearing silks, Alison Walker rounded the turns aboard The Big Show to win the under saddle blue aboard the world-class team of At Full Throttle and Holli McDowell.


Maureen Lydon and Rich Campbell put ponies in as many classes as they could. Among their Majestic Oaks winners were Sharon Lewis and Kilbro’s Articulate in the Amateur Road Pony competition. Joe Elam sent Ann Fitzpatrick and Buckwheat to the reserve finish.


Buckwheat did, however, finish on top in the AHHS Youth Medallion Road Pony class. After taking lessons and saving money to buy his own silks, a hardworking young man named J.P. Stiltz debuted with Buckwheat to win the five-pony Medallion for Ann Fitzpatrick’s Rigby’s Green Farm. Boxford On The Mark crossed the finish line in reserve.


From Double D Ranch, Alyssa Lopez was in the irons when Heartland Little Gem was called to the winner’s circle of the AHHS Youth Medallion Road Pony Under Saddle competition. They were ahead of Power Of Attorney and Sarah Bushell.


Making their 2007 debut, Heartland Triple Crown and Heidi Bowie were alone in the Open Harness Pony class. That didn’t stop them from making a blue ribbon caliber performance for trainer Joe Elam.


Nabucco and Mary Campbell were two for two in the cob-tail division. Park Lane and Donnie Ross were twice reserve winners. Campbell was just as successful with Man On The Town as they won the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship and qualifier with Rich Campbell meeting them in the winner’s circle. Betsy Webb had the multi-titled Portrait Of A Lady and Barbara Pippin looking sharp as two-time reserve champions.


Judy Megelich and Ventura’s Gold Card wore the tricolor streamers from the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship after qualifying with a reserve title in the novice gaited pleasure class. Grace Ann Walker received reserve grand champion honors with Walterway’s Headline Material. Jennie Garlington and her new partner World’s Champion Champagne Treat wore the blue prize from the ring in the qualifier.  CeCe Hagan and Time To Win were the victors in the novice pleasure qualifier.


A Junior Park Pleasure blue went to Moving Along and Nancy Rees. Danette Musselman made two victory passes with My Jose Quervo in the Park Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier.


Showing for Carol McIvor, Katelan Crabtree teamed Worthy’s Independent Son to the Adult Show Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Ribbons And Love was the closest competitor in the second round.


Having a great first season together last year in the country pleasure division, Mollie Kregor and The Petite Princess made a nice transition to show pleasure. They took both the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure Championship and 14 and under qualifier, two of the largest classes of the entire show. Newcomers CH New York Style and Ben Ferreby returned to Walnut Way farm with the reserve grand championship. Bagger Vance and Natalie Hall were victors in the15-17 age group.


Chris Bowen had Raffle Ticket and James Sigmon tuned up to make the last pass from the Novice Three-Gaited Show Pleasure competition.


Moving up a few notches from the qualifier, Loaded Weapon and Ashley Howard turned back the competition for the highest honors in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship. Kaelyn Donnelly’s CH Highpoint’s Coming Attraction was the panel’s top choice in the qualifier before placing them second in the championship.


From Biggins Stables, Sarah Russell and Haunting couldn’t have been any more ready for the new season. Never turning an ear, Haunting was crowned the Adult Country Pleasure Grand Champion and Novice Country Pleasure winner with Russell in the irons for both large classes. CeCe Hagan is usually right at the top and she proved to be successful again with reserve grand champion Mr. Belaphona.


Thingamajig and Melinda Wilson shone brightly as the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Grand Champions and qualifying winners. They had a number of teams wanting their ribbons, namely twice reserve winners CH O Me O My KF and Hallie Tyler.


With Donna and Tubby Smith in the stands cheering them on, Heidi Bowie and Heirithmatic captured the Country Pleasure Driving Championship from Blue Willow Farm. Good friend Bowie was driving for Donna Smith. Winner of the first round, Sweet Intention and Cheryl Rhoton were reserve grand champions.


Chelsea Ruxer was aboard Samuel Charles to take the Country Western Pleasure Championship and qualifying blue. Andrea Seybert’s My Son’s Affair jogged off with the reserve championship. Carole Gould’s Sultry Eve was on top in the Hunter Seat Classic.


Equitation was not a mainstay of the Kentucky Spring Premier, although most of this year’s winners are well-known champions. They included Annie Morgan, Anna Hormann, Kelsey Olson, Ali Judah and Angela Mangine.


This year’s show also included Friesian and Morgan classes. Marilyn Macfarlane had a good group of Friesians with Arend T winning the Friesian Saddle Seat Pleasure Championship with Lynn Wangerin high in the saddle. They defeated Leo and Jannie Giles who had won the qualifier for Jennifer Pitt. With Macfarlane at the whip, Jetro and Jacop won the Carriage Pleasure Driving class.


Morgan classes were offered this year and a few local farms responded. Madge Bass was aboard Whitney’s Welcome to make a tricolor quality show for Liz Connor in the Morgan English Pleasure Championship. Reserve champions Kelsey Morgan and Aspice Rhondo Alla Turka were the lone entries in the amateur qualifier.


Under the direction of John Warner, Caroline Gaker was at the whip when her winning junior exhibitor teammate, Cingate Vincent’s Song was named the Morgan Pleasure Driving Champion over Money Talks and Stephanie Roberts. Vincent’s Song and Warner had been reserve to the exciting team of Whispering Whamunition and Dean Scott who tested the waters as the winners of the Morgan Open Pleasure Driving class for PlayMor Farm LLC.


The Hazen family strongly supported the Morgan division and won several titles. In addition to Whispering Whamunition, they had Sandcastle Spittin Image, Classic Pleasure Saddle Grand Champion and ladies winner with Whitney Hazen. Classic Pleasure Saddle qualifying winner Armani was the reserve grand champion with Bryce Smithwick.


Also representing PlayMor Farm, Jacqueline Clapp and Med E Oka Nobel Prize were Classic Pleasure Driving Champions, while Jennifer Hazen and KN French Commandante ruled the Morgan Western Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Both times Stephanie Roberts and The Vintage Rose were in reserve.


Wrapping up a look at the competition for the 18th annual Kentucky Spring Premier, Jennifer Hazen made it one more for PlayMor Farm as she rode to the top of the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship. Open and amateur class winners Stephanie Roberts and Trophy’s Special Edition were reserve grand champions.


With the close of the show also came much speculation as to its future. “There is a group of us that definitely want this show to continue,” said Jane Jacobs, who along with her husband, Brent, have been on the board since the beginning. “We will be polling the trainers and exhibitors, take their feedback and make some adjustments.”

This concludes the highlights from the KY Spring Premier Horse Show. Complete results may be found and searched by clicking here for Morgan results and here for all other results.

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