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Talent Contest - His Name Was So Very Appropriate

by Leeann Mione

Boasting an incredible pedigree containing 12 Broodmare Hall Of Fame mares in four generations, and the great CH Wing Commander on both sides, CH Talent Contest was aptly named. He was destined to win talent contests.

Sired by Talent Town and out of Rainbow Valley (BHF), CH Talent Contest was bred by Alvin Ruxer Farms and foaled April 20, 1983.

As a three-year-old he was teamed with George Schmid and they were in the top three in the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness class at River Ridge. He made the switch to the gaited division the following year and with Schmid up had respectable showings in junior, limit and novice classes in 1987 and 1988 at shows including Rock Creek and the Kentucky State Fair.

Nancy Strand showed the chestnut gelding at Louisville in 1988 to a top three finish in yet another division, and the one where he would truly shine for the remainder of his career: the three-gaited division. They were third in the Three-Gaited Ladies Over 15.2 Stake.

Having made the switch to walk-trot, it was the great Donna Moore who would be responsible for his next partnership.

According to Sunrise Stables trainer Melissa Moore, "Mom bought him for Bill [Shatner] in 1989 and he won the Amateur Gentleman Three-Gaited World’s Championship with him. He won at shows across the country such as Lexington, Rock Creek, St. Louis, Devon, Madison Square Garden, Kentucky Fall Classic and Hollywood Charity Horse Show with Bill. 

"Melinda [Moore] showed him a few times when she was getting him ready for Bill to show. I showed him four times in 1992, at Lexington and Louisville and won all four classes; the Three-Gaited Ladies Over 15.2 qualifiers and Ladies Three-Gaited Championships.  

"Judy Shepherd bought him for Victoria [Shepard Bleeden] for Christmas in 1992 and she showed him till he retired. He was the Reserve World’s Champion Amateur Three-Gaited at Louisville in 1993 for Victoria. 

"Judy left him a trust and he has been at Sunrise Stables since he stopped showing. He has had a good long life out in the field with his girlfriends and he has raised numerous crops of yearlings for me every year. He was a very special horse to me as I worked him for both Bill and Victoria and I loved him dearly. He will be greatly missed and I think it says something special about Judy that she left a trust to take care of her horses after she was gone. 

Moore continued by saying, "The year I won the world’s champion of champions title with him all the clients gave me a Jack Russell Terrier and I named him TC after Talent Contest. Anyway, TC died in January of this year at 16 and a half years old. I knew shortly after that Talent Contest would soon die too. It’s funny, I think the horse was waiting on the dog. They were both very special."

Bleeden had this to say about her beloved world’s champion. "We have owned him for the past 17 years. He was very special to our family and will be missed greatly. It saddens me that I didn't have the chance to see him recently, (I live in California) but my memories of him are many and wonderful. 

"My mother purchased him for me to show in 1992 from Bill Shatner. While I had had a pleasure horse before, he was my first "performance" horse. I had always admired him and it was a huge surprise when she gave him to me for Christmas that year. He was such a wonderful horse because he was so patient with all my amateur mistakes but he taught me how to ride. I won a reserve championship at Louisville the first year I had him. 

"Sadly, he had to retire early in his career due to a suspensory injury but lived out a happy life with Melissa Moore. He was the last horse living which my mother and I owned so his passing has had a huge impact on me," said Bleeden.

CH Talent Contest was one of the great ones – one of those horses who thought a lot of himself and worked hard to make each and every one of his owners and trainers shine in the spotlight.

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