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Showtime In The Valley

by Bob Funkhouser

ROANOKE, Va. - For 32 years the Roanoke Valley has been home to a summer classic featuring Saddlebreds, Hackneys and hunter/jumpers. Certainly one of the top 10 shows in terms of spectators, Roanoke gave them plenty to cheer for this year. It is the $50,000 Grand Prix which attracts the majority of spectators, but over the years they have come to love the charismatic performances given by the many world class Saddlebreds exhibiting at the Salem Civic Center.

Show manager Glenn Petty and longtime director June Camper had one of their best shows in years as exhibitors from Virginia, West Virginia, the Carolinas, Florida and New England came together for a great week of competition, especially Saturday night’s championship schedule.

“This has been one of the best shows I’ve seen here in a while,” said Roanoke Horse Show Hall of Fame member Claude Shiflet, who for the first time in 32 years did not show a horse himself.

There were many others to carry on the tradition for Shiflet including his son and grandson who both won Roanoke titles. A new generation of horsemen were on hand with many topnotch horses. The likes of Smith Lilly, Matt Shiflet and Clark Clouse were winning numerous classes against the veterans. It was a good mix of the established and the new. Longtime Roanoke supporters Peter and Kim Cowart won two of the three open championships with their West Wind Stables entries, leaving the Five-Gaited Championship to a showdown between Jon Walker and veteran Lewis Eckard, with Walker taking the title.

While Roanoke officials were enjoying a great turnout; it was also a hard week for many of them. This was the first show in a long, long time without Allen Camper. He and his wife June had been the heart and soul of the show for so many years and his unexpected passing last August left a huge void in the Roanoke Valley Horsemen’s Association. Friday evening the show took time out to honor Camper with his posthumous induction into the Roanoke Horse Show Hall of Fame, joining a prestigious list of men and women who have given so unselfishly to the show.

Like most other parts of the country, Roanoke had to deal with heavy rains early in the week, but by the weekend all was forgotten with cool, sunny weather. That only added to the great southern hospitality. The famed party tent was again adjacent to the indoor coliseum with nightly offerings for junior exhibitors and adults.

“We were really pleased with this year’s show,” said June Camper. “We are a non-profit show so it was great that we could give our spectators an entertaining and competitive show. The community really comes out to support us and it’s especially nice to be able to distribute checks to charities in the Valley.”

Ricky Harris was brought in to judge the many competitive classes. Early in the schedule he had several horses making huge mistakes, but by Friday and Saturday everyone had their kinks ironed out and were making serious runs at the tricolor streamers.

Roanoke Valley 2003 came to a close with a most competitive eight-horse Five-Gaited Championship and what class it was. Just as things were heating up Matt Shiflet’s entry cast a shoe so everyone caught their breath before it was time to go again. The first way of the ring Lewis Eckard and open winner Belleavanti were making the strongest case for tricolor honors, however, the second way of the ring Jon Walker’s Dusty Beau, who had been reserve in the qualifier, really came on strong.

It was a battle to the finish, but when the card was turned in, announcer Dick Morgan called out Dusty Beau as the Five-Gaited Grand Champion. Walker tossed his hat into the crowd and shot down to the other end where ringmaster Bill Whitley and photographer Doug Shiflet and a group of presenters awaited the new champion. About the time Walker arrived at the winner’s circle, one of the presenters, Margaret Camper, fainted. Walker jumped off his horse and the paramedics were called to the ring.

In a matter of minutes Mrs. Camper was on her feet waving to the crowd and the grand champion was crowned.

With a large cheering section Eckard and the sharp-eared mare burst down the center of the ring to receive the reserve grand champion honors for All-Well Farm. They were followed by Nancy Troutman riding Vanity’s Gypsy Town to a strong third place finish.

The amateur championship also featured eight entries and they were rackin’ and trottin’ strong to the bitter end. Moving up a notch from last year, Peggy Gillenwater and her beautiful world’s champion mare Margaret Rose emerged from the line-up as the grand champions. Representing West Wind Stables, they had previously made a victory pass in the ladies class ahead of Karin Folkers and the entertaining Red Satin Sheetz. Reserve to Connie Sessoms with Assets and Attitude in the Amateur Five-Gaited qualifier, Rhonda Dunford and Broadway Bluegrass returned home with Roanoke’s Amateur Five-Gaited Reserve Grand Championship.

Gary Altizer made the winning ride in the Virginia Owned Five-Gaited class aboard Holly Hannah. Bill Banks and Callaway’s State Senator were next in line for a ribbon. Kristen Spann was one of the original members of the Roanoke Valley Horse Show so it was a special treat for her to make a victory pass at this year’s show. She rode Callaway’s Whirligig to the top prize in the six-horse Novice Five-Gaited class. The red streamers were awarded to Uhlens Dream with Clark Clouse in the irons.

Taking a big step and covering lots of ground, Callaway’s W.J. Bryan was the top choice in the Junior Five-Gaited class with Peter Cowart riding for Spencer Mains. Smith Lilly presented Resplendence for Sue Nifong to garner the red prize. Matt Shiflet and String Town kept it together to top the three-year-old field, which included reserve winners Shamrock’s Firestarter and Karin Folkers.

The Juvenile Five-Gaited Championship ended with a bang as judge Harris sent two entries back to the rail. Some rough spots for both of them in the regular class mandated additional work before a winner was determined. Both teams were relatively green and both made championship caliber passes, but in the end the John Champagne-trained She’s A Starburst was named the grand champion with Katy Sterba giving a strong ride. Winner of the qualifier, reserve grand champions Talley Harris and Stud Cor Donatello couldn’t quite hold it together enough, but when they were good they were really good. Alexandra Harper and Stylin’ had been reserve to Stud Cor Donatello in the qualifier.

Six entries made it back for the Three-Gaited Championship and again, this one was extremely competitive. Marching a big, consistent trot, Bayou Belle was a repeat winner with Kim Cowart presenting the Three-Gaited Grand Champion and open class winner for Spencer Mains. This was the second open championship of the night for West Wind Stable. She Steals Hearts was a popular reserve grand champion with owner/rider Bill Shiflet in the irons. This entertaining, young mare made her mark with a blue ribbon performance in the Virginia Owned Three-Gaited class. Clark Clouse and Lady Lenaire had been reserve in the open class, while Lori Ingram and Salvation wore the red prize from the ring in the Virginia owned competition.

With their second tricolor of the season squared away, Margo Harwood and SJ Like A Champ came through with another athletic performance to add Roanoke’s Amateur Three-Gaited Championship to their Bonnie Blue title. They warmed up with a leg-waving performance in the amateur qualifier defeating Robin McKenzie Vuillermet and Hayden Fox, among others. The Amateur Three-Gaited Reserve Grand Championship belonged to ladies winners Barby Thornton and Lucrative Lady, with stablemate Hayden Fox in third.

One of many winning ribbons for Mercer Springs Farm came in the Novice Three-Gaited class in which Smith Lilly rode Terry Honaker’s Callaway’s Maverick to the blue. Clark Clouse guided Elmo Greer’s Promise Me Fame to second place honors. Lilly also had the top ride from the Junior Three-Gaited Stake. Showing for Leslie Bovenzi, Lilly rode Highwood’s Fatal Beauty to the win. Clark Clouse was again the bridesmaid, this time with Shezacat.

When prize money was distributed in the UPHA Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Classic Clark Clouse and Uhlen’s Magic Marker were the first to step forward. This champion was owned by Lauren Noe. Reserve money went to Tiffany Cross riding Gaberdin for W.L. Nininger.

It seemed like championship after championship returned to the Lilly family’s Mercer Spring Farm. They kept the winning combination of Allison Combs and French Silk Stockings on top guiding them to the 13 & under blue as well as the Juvenile Three-Gaited Championship. Reserve grand champion honors were awarded to Josh Wall and Diamond Merchant, the team which had been reserve to Stevie Bagdasarian and Royal Crest’s Heavenly Stone in the 14-17 qualifier. Brighton Barousse rode Harlem’s Jamaican to the reserve title in the 13 & under section.

Clouse Stables did have the winning combination for the Three-Gaited Pony Championship and qualifier. Marching every step of the way, Cameo’s Carte Blanche was a two-time winner for Suzanna Crews. There was plenty of competition in both rounds as the top team of Allie Wellington and Too Legit To Quit rode away with both reserve prizes, followed by another winning combo, Lauren Pyes and Dawn Juan.

Showing a sporty, young mare named Santana Dancer, Harrison Shiflet had the blue ribbon ride from the Three-Gaited Park Championship for owner Herbert Maxey, Jr. The closest competition came from Clark Clouse and Lynbrook’s Scarlet. The results were switched in the open qualifier with Clouse making the victory pass ahead of Shiflet and four other contenders.

Michael Richardson had Bonnie Buck and Amanda Murchison firing on all cylinders as they marched to the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship and qualifying blue from Cricket Hill Farm. Fairfield South had the reserve winner in both events with Emily Hess giving Callaway’s Smart Angle two good rides.

Drowning Creek Farm claimed both winning ribbons from the Juvenile Park Championship and qualifier. Chelsie Smith and the gifted Sanibel were named the champions both times out with Leandra Cogan and Deerhaven’s Stay Tuned riding away with the reserve championship title.

It was great to see a ring full of fine harness horses compete for Saturday night’s championship. Of the six entries, amateur winners New York Trend and Stefanie Sanchez stood out as the grand champions. It was the first time back in the ring for Sanchez since the tragic shooting of her young daughter earlier this year. Miracle child Rachel was on hand to cheer for her mom and the rest of the West Wind contenders. Open class winner Shamrock’s Mint To Be was named the reserve grand champion with John Champagne at the whip for Jimmy Nixon. Clark Clouse and Ringside had claimed reserve in the open class.

Champagne did have the winning drive in the Junior Fine Harness class in which he presented the C. Norman Jones entry Mountainview’s Worth A Fort. Lewis Meadows and Shakespeare In Love drove away with the red ribbon. Earlier in the week Meadows had won the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness class with Coventry’s Carpe Diem. The Monty Paulat entry tied ahead of reserve champions John Champagne and He’s A Star as well as four others.

One of the nicest horses on the grounds came from the winner’s circle of the Two-Year-Old Fine Harness class. A reserve world’s champion in hand last year, Mountainview’s Nite Sky has developed into an absolutely beautiful, black Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Championship. Smith Lilly made the winning drive for Jones Mountainview Saddlebreds. John Champagne was again the reserve driver, this time with Jimmy Nixon’s Sultan’s Perfect Night.

Catie Hawley and The Dixie Doodle had the ring to themselves in the ASHAF Fine Harness class and they put on a good show in spite of the lack of competition.

Thank goodness for Bent Tree Farm or there wouldn’t have been a pony division to speak of. They were first and second in the Harness Pony Championship with Karen Waldron driving Vindicator and Lee Hudson driving Night Editor. They had been the only entries in the open and amateur classes.

Bent Tree also had the Hackney Pony Grand Champion and reserve grand champion with Heartland Ooh! La La and Bagheira. Again Waldron and Hudson were the drivers.

Cover Story was the first name called out in the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship. Brenda Rappaport made the winning presentation just as she did in the qualifier. Sandy Coombs and Heartland Foxy Dancer made the reserve shows among the six entries in the championship and seven in the qualifier.

Meredith Garrison and Mystic King brought home the blue in the AHHS Youth Medallion Pleasure Driving class. Their competition was Plasiv, driven by Christie Van As.

It was the amateur winner against the open winner for the Roadster To Bike Championship and it was the amateur coming out on top. Directed by Lisa Lucas, Jon Dabareiner and Kentucky Wildcat were all out to cut down the nets for Fish N Fun Farm. John Champagne donned the silks to drive Canadian Express to the reserve championship title. Diamond Hustler and Harry Chapman were reserve in both the amateur and open qualifier.

Driving for Susan Harris, Lewis Eckard turned it on with Seize The Moment to take home Roanoke’s Road Pony Championship. They took advantage of the moment to defeat open class winner Heartland City Boy. This top four-year-old was driven by David Cater for Kourt Jester Morgans. Harry Chapman and Radiant Edition carried the red ribbon from the ring.

Competition for the amateur drivers found Late Nite’s Magic Moment and Kathryn Nichols right at the top of the card in both classes. Their winning performances bested reserve champion Ferocia, driven by Geoff Bodenhorst, as well as four others. A stablemate to Late Nite’s Magic Moment, Mr. Cool Breeze crossed the finish line in first for the Junior Road Pony title. Bill Waller was the driver for Kathryn and Carl Nichols. Milton Gray presented Wait and See’s Jazzercise to the reserve placing for longtime supporter and fine gentleman Rees Woody.

Aarobrook’s The Aviator enjoyed victory lane twice during the week. Mary Schmidt was at the whip for the Novice Road Pony blue, then Kathryn Schmidt took over and won the AHHS Youth Medallion Road Pony Under Saddle class. Twin Willow’s Storm Warning and Rowdy Yank were the respective reserve champions in the speed classes.

Moving up a notch from the qualifier, Dun-Haven’s Grandiose was all business to win the Juvenile Road Pony Championship with Rebekah Cloninger in the bike. Also moving up a place, Marli Dabareiner and Sweet Impression finished as the reserve grand champions. Qualifying winners Kari Jackson and Coachlight’s Shockwave moved to third in the second round.

Having a good week Fish N Fun Farm also claimed the Adult Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Lisa Dabareiner and Harlem’s Hot Scoop were right on the money with their delivery to take both classes. Knocking on the door both times out was the team of Ann Jones and Callaway’s Crossed Fingers.

The juveniles had their own championship and qualifier in the gaited pleasure division and there was a different winner in both classes. The final round belonged to Lennox, an entry owned by Vickie Keatley and Jennie Graham, trained by Smith Lilly, and ridden by Devon Garone. The championship team had been reserve to the always busy combination of Callaway’s Beautiful Music and Kari Jackson.

Winner of the ASHAF Show Pleasure Driving class, Callaway’s North Wind also turned back all challengers in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship. The Mercer Springs team was followed by Moon Drifter and Joan Whitesides in reserve. In the qualifier Stephanie Wellington presented I’m the Real Deal to the blue.

Show pleasure had championships for riders over 40 as well as 18-40. The elder tricolor went to Force Majeure, ridden by Julie Simmons. It was their third win of the week following blue ribbon performances in the Virginia owned and over 40 qualifying classes. Debbie Grant and All Heir were twice reserve champions.

The top two stayed the same in the Adult Show Pleasure 18-40 division with Diane Lawing the multi-titled Absolutely A Lady in the winner’s circle. They were followed by Marcie Van Geruen and Lady Bayanna.

Gary and Marsha Garone enjoyed another successful Roanoke and part of that success belonged to Juvenile Show Pleasure 14-17 Grand Champion and qualifying winner Callaway’s All That Jazz. Owner Zachary Adams had just come off the same titles at Twin State two weeks earlier. Sally Wilson and Sports Night applied the pressure with two reserve titles.

Not only did the Garones win the 14-17 section, they also swept the 13 and under classes with Kyle Gagnon and the great gelding Cedar Creek’s Mr. Money Man cashing in. He continues to be one of the top in what ever division he shows in. Another New Englander, Elizabeth Dirth, enjoyed two nice performances with twice reserve winner Hakeem The Dream.

Junior exhibitors had all kinds of pleasure classes at Roanoke. In addition to the above events there were also Pleasure Pony and Walk-Trot Show Pleasure divisions. Sarah Longworth and Fox’s Dancing Fire were the best pony combination, twice being followed by High Point’s Czarina and Rachel Fitzgerald.

A tricolor was pinned on Walk-Trot Show Pleasure Grand Champion Unique Santana, an entry ridden by Drew Taylor Hewitt for Allie Wellington. Nikki Lawing and Bankshire’s Davy Jones commanded the reserve title. Jessica Simmons and Storm In A Teacup had topped the qualifier.

There was also plenty of talent in the young horse section of the pleasure division. Kristen Shiflet and Callaway’s B. Gratz Brown caught a lot of eyes as they triumphed in the Junior Park Pleasure class for Greg and Gina Crews. David Cater and the promising Little Cindy Lou Who stepped up with a big show for reserve.

Keeping it in the family, Harrison Shiflet topped the UPHA Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure Classic with Uwharrie’s Patriot Sage. This sharp youngster was ahead of five others including reserve champion Champagne’s Finest Jewel and trainer Bill Waller.

Jan Beardsley-Blanco added to the Fairfield South riches with two winning drives behind Mayday Masquerade. This team keeps adding championship after championship to their credits. Representing the Cash Lovell Stables, Ron Cook’s He’s Real Bad finished as the two-time reserve champion.

John Whalen continues to turn out champion amateur and juvenile riders as was the case with Adult Country Pleasure Grand Champions Java Sea and Amy Roberts. Reserve champion honors were awarded to Marion Bryan and Lady Mysterious, while Debbie Palmer and Bonnie Santana scored the reserve placing in the adult qualifier.

Another of those truly grand performers, Harlem’s Half Moon was bright enough to sweep the Juvenile Country Pleasure Championship and 14-17 qualifier with Kerri McDaniel in the irons. Emerging as the reserve grand champions were Leatherwood’s Fanfare and Andrea Wolkoff, reserve winners in the 13 and under qualifier which was won by Kathryn Fulper and Will’s Willy. Also in the Country Pleasure division, The Chesapeake Bay and Lisa Shorter Oakes claimed the six-horse Virginia owned class.

It couldn’t have been any better for Pat Yeatts and Beaux Radiant Empire. They jogged their way to three titles in the Western Pleasure division including the grand championship. Sultan’s Secret Reflection and Debi Hedin were twice reserve, including the championship.

Six solid riders represented one of the best Saddle Seat Equitation Championships at Roanoke in some time. From top to bottom it was a good championship field and they were all challenged by the workout dictated by judge Harris. Coming out on top was the 2002 Morgan UPHA Challenge Cup National Champion Lindsey Gama. Still riding her Morgan, Royal Crown Cavalier, Gama represented Cricket Hill Farm. Reserve grand champion honors went the 2002 USAE Medal National Champion Devon Garone. The 14-17 winner was on her newest project Sultan’s Havana Anna. Under the direction of Liz McBride-Jones, Sarah-Ann Howell also had a beautiful ride to receive the yellow streamers in the championship round.

Gama also topped the NHS Good Hands event, beating out reserve champion Joel Dorignac and four other riders. Dorignac then came back to knock off five other riders for the UPHA Challenge Cup blue. Morgan Berger was the reserve rider following the pattern work.

Stablemates Kyle Gagnon and Ashley Stine took the top two spots in the Saddle Seat Equitation 13 and Under class. Bother former walk and trot champions ride with Fairfield South. Another team member, Andrea Gregory, gave a blue ribbon ride in the Pleasure Equitation class to keep the streak going.

Cute as a button, the go forward Kate Lovejoy was the judge’s choice in both Walk and Trot Equitation classes. She was greeted in the winner’s circle by Chestnut Lane’s John Whalen. Also with a sparkle in her eye, Kimberly Ginsberg showed some pretty good horsemanship herself to claim two reserves.

This concludes the highlights from Roanoke Valley. Complete results follow and may also be found by visiting our web site at

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