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Class after class featured explosive competition in the three-gaited division at Louisville. From young stars shooting through the gate to tried and true champions of years past, fans of this division saw it all in Freedom Hall this year. And in the end it was a three-year-old making the biggest headlines.

Sunday evening featured seven contenders hoping to make their mark at Freedom Hall in the Kentucky County Fair Three-Gaited Championship. The crowd was thrilled to see an overwhelmed Ryan Stodd claim top honors aboard the Supreme Heir son Heir Popper. Under the direction of Chris and Chad Reiser at L'Ambiance, this duo made Tina Stodd quite happy as she watched her horse and son make the once in a lifetime trot down victory lane. Melinda Moore made one of many successful rides of the week, sliding into reserve with Rich Woman for The Jean McLean Davis Trust.

Eleven ponies turned out for the Three-Gaited 13 and Under Pony Stake on Monday morning. Time Of Your Life gave Katie Morrison a ride of her life as they swept the top prize for the Cash Lovell banner. Reserve honors went to Vouvray with Brittany Fox up for Amanda Moorehouse. This pair is under the direction of Tim Henderson.

For the 14 through 17 year old riders, defending world's champions Simbara's Audacity and Laura Dozer showed up in winning fashion, claiming one of many victorious ribbons under the DeLovely banner throughout the week. After receiving one first place vote, last year's 13 & under world's champion CH Heir Style with Cassandra Lynch up accepted reserve in this strong class of junior riders.

Champions from the two age groups came face to face in the Three-Gaited Pony Stake. Picking up one more vote for first, CH Heir Style reversed the order of the qualifier earlier in the week and came back in top form to be named Three-Gaited Pony World's Champion with Cassandra Lynch, once again, up for Robert and Carole Worthington and representing the Clover Leaf team. Simbara's Audacity and Laura Dozer put forth great effort but nonetheless settled in for proud reserve honors. Both of these mares are sisters to other Louisville stars. Heir Style (Supreme Heir x Sweet Illusion W.F.) is a full sister to eventual Three-Gaited World's Grand Champion An Heir About Her and eventual Country Pleasure Driving World's Grand Champion Sultry Heiress. Audacity is out of Denmark's Radiant Society, dam of CH A Sweet Treat, CH Be Happy, Simbara's Exclamation, Cara Mia, and other stars.

The junior three-gaited division was nothing less than awesome at Louisville as many stars were born or recognized for the first time by large numbers in the industry. Some of the young horses were so impressive that they showed back in the open championship as favorites. It all began in the Two-Year-Old Stake as the athletic Callaway's Little Dipper made the winning performance with trainer Robert Brison for Callaway Hills. Harley Rally finished next with a crowd pleasing performance for Mark Hulse and owner James Orr.

Mark Hulse presented another up and coming young star in the Three-Gaited Three-Year Old Stake on Wednesday evening. As 13 competitive entries tried for top ribbons, Hulse's entry, Heir's To You worked the ring for a unanimous win for Katie Langdon. Well versed Morgan trainer Kurt Hufferd had one ride on the green shavings with Stonecutter, the three-year-old star from Midwest Charity captured a strong reserve for Spring Hill Morgans, LLC.

When the call came for the Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Futurity Tuesday night, it's a safe bet to say that no one could have realized the unbelievable amount of quality that emerged in Freedom Hall. L'Ambiance was off to a wonderful week at this point in the show with an already big win with Heir Popper and Ryan Stodd the night before. This time, however, the spotlight was on the Joan Lurie bred mare, last year's Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited World's Champion from section two, An Heir About Her. The crowd was wild as Chris Reiser made a very appreciated victory pass, after receiving a unanimous vote, aboard this excitingly bright walk-trot mare, who is owned by newcomer Steve Hanes.

Even though An Heir About Her lived up to her billing as a sensational three-year-old, she did have to share the stage with two other stars. Aboard the Radiant Sultan daughter, Scarlet Evening, John Conatser wasn't about to let Reiser steal the entire moment. They were reserve world's champions for High Hickory Farm. Melissa Moore and the high trotting Royal Messenger created quite a stir this year and they were right in the midst of the battle with a third place finish. Things really got warmed up in the Three-Gaited Junior 15.2 and Under Stake as Lime Twisted Gin charged through the gait under the guidance of Melissa Moore. This incredibly bright gelding didn't drop an ear and appeared to love the show ring. Lime Twisted Gin was unanimously tied on top. Another young star shined for reserve honors, Memory Lane's Jenny Taylor was aboard the sporty chestnut Highpoint's Grandee, happily taking home the red ribbon to Shannon and Cheryl Hafer

In the junior over two class, it was oh-so-talented and popular Callaway's Sugarplum, making a grand show Monday night to start Silver Brook, and particularly owner David Nierenberg, off on what would be a wonderful week in Louisville. A winner of many top prizes Callaway's Merry Go Round was guided by Neil Visser for Sara Turner to collect a reserve for Kalarama.

Nine high profile entries came together for the Junior Three-Gaited Championship hoping to wear the tricolor and roses out of the ring. Debbie Foley expertly guided Callaway's Sugarplum -- already hailed as one of the next great ones -- to another impressive title, in addition to last year's win in the Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited World Championship. It was a unanimous victory.

"She's so correct. I think she's one of the best walk-trot horses in any division." said a happy Debbie Foley.

Stonecroft Verbena stepped up to the plate for a polished reserve ride with Rob Byers up for Golden Creek. She gave a grand performance to place ahead of Fianna, the multi-titled mare who put on a great show to win Shelbyville's junior stake just a few weeks earlier with Neil Visser in the saddle for Happy Valley Farm. Kalarama stablemate Callaway's Merry Go Round was fourth in the deep championship with Larry Hodge riding.

The junior exhibitor division was deep numbers and quality making a split necessary for the 11 and under riders with eight and nine entries in each class respectively. Shelby Reimer paved her way to the winner's circle after an aggressive ride on Town Fantasy. She was greeted by her ecstatic parents Brian and Susan Reimer. Heir Calendar Girl and Sydne Huntoon collected reserve for R.Kyle and Robin Saver. Marilyn Macfarlane was at the rail for this reserve.

Division two was equally impressive in numbers and the quality was outstanding. Allison Combs has enjoyed a successful season thus far with French Silk Stockings and she topped it all off with a world's champion victory pass for the Mercer Springs team. Stepping up to the competition and appearing content at reserve was the new Clover Leaf team of Aaron Stump aboard Undulata's Perfect Gift.

The 12 and 13-year-old class was not split. Doing her best to stand out in the 15-horse class, Caitlyn Spring and 2001 Junior Exhibitor 13 & Under World's Grand Champion CH Sergeant Royalty came out on top once again this year, with Jan Lukens again cheering in the background. Versatile Alexandra Flynn was up for a reserve ride aboard Quickview under the Delovely banner.

The 13 & under championship saw 14 entries giving it their all. Coming back from a third place ride in the 11 and under class, Colorado native Anisa Tracy really set out to prove her talent as a rider and captured the world's grand championship with the fancy CH Renowned SC. Trainer Jamie Bridgewater is responsible for the coming together of this up and coming combination. Another pair likely to remain in the scene was French Silk Stocking and Allison Combs who brought home reserve to Mercer Springs. Remaining ribbons were given to the following: Undulata's Perfect Gift and Aaron Stump, Callaway's Kiss and Tell and Kelsey Price, Town Fantasy and Shelby Reimer, Heart Of Blue and Brittany Kale, CH X's and O's and Allison Cherry, and CH Sergeant Royalty with Caitlyn Spring.

Cash Lovell had Sportster cranked up and ready to go for the 14 and 15-year-old riders. New owner Kate Bryan was ready for the victory and took it home to Dr. Hugh and Marion Bryan. Kayla Wooters aboard Jama Rose finished reserve in the 12-horse class for Kathryne Stief. The second place pair is coached by William Greenwell.

Eyes remained steady on Made You Look and Kerry Honkamp in the senior class as the judges tied this outstanding Knollwood Farm pair above the 17 other competitors. Following the world champions in this strong class was Simply Tasty with Dakota Willimon, who was riding this time for James Orr with the instruction of Larry Hodge. The remaining ribbons went to Fame's Preferential Treatment and Caroline Gillespie, Viola Madden and Abby Jones, New York Cheesecake ERB and Jessica Harrison, Tahiti Petey and Audrey Pade, CH K-Mon and Jamie Hitchin, and Titleist Imagination and Anne Skiba.

With two good qualifiers coming together for one championship, you can imagine the Three-Gaited Junior Exhibitor 14-17 Championship was intense. Fifteen gave the class a shot but Kayla Wooters was determined to make a come back with Jama Rose, and they did so, receiving two out of three first place votes. Sportster settled for reserve with Kate Bryan again up. Other top finishers were Made Ya Look and Kerry Honkamp, Fame's Preferential Treatment and Caroline Gillespie, CH K-Mon and Jamie Hitchin, Hollywood Scandal and Tate Bennett, Viola Madden and Abby Jones and New York Cheesecake ERB and Jessica Harrison.

The Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under Ladies' Amateur Stake was taken by the expressive Time's Mirrored ERB and Anne Marie Mielke. Lynda Freseth had this pair in prime condition for the victory pass after defeating 14 others in this deep class. It was another world champion pass for Anne and her mother, owner Barbara Mielke. Phillipa Sledge received a second place finish for the Pidgeon Roost banner with the many times champion CH Americana's Jazz Man. Jazz Man was part of the trio of walk-trot stars shown by Phillipa this week. Pagan Prince and Erin Sembler received third making the class extremely deep with title holder after title holder shooting for the top.

There was no doubt among the panel when in came to the over two ladies' amateur stake. An exciting combination of Tara Duff and Tamarack's Lightning Strikes pulled off a unanimous victory with the assistance of Nelson Green. Melody Adler and City Lady secured a solid second under the direction of Kalarama. Kelly Mount glowed has her name was announced as the third place finisher with her Harlem's Town Scandal.

Another unanimous decision was in store for Tamarack's Lightning Strikes and Tara Duff, who swept the tricolor in the 13-entry Three-Gaited Ladies' Amateur Championship Friday night. They have stayed at the top all season long. Time's Mirrored ERB stepped up to the competition for reserve with Anne Marie Mielke. This tough class left last year's ladies' amateur world's grand champion City Lady in third with Melody Adler.

L'Ambiance returned to the winner's circle again...and again it was Ryan Stodd to accept the blue with Heir Popper Tuesday night in the amateur gentlemen's class. It finished off a week which included two top finishes after only two goes. A previous winner of this class with both S.S. Lies and Alibis and Nightly Affair, Chris Nalley rode the Merchant Prince daughter [Nightly Affair] to reserve for Jean Nalley under the direction of John Biggins.

The Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under Amateur Stake featured 14 entries. Judy Werner's handsome bay stallion, Designed made a winning performance for the Delovely team. Another flashy bay, Callaway's Buttons and Bows put on a good show with Mary Gaylord McClean up for the reserve. Lexington's amateur grand champion Man On The Run received one first place vote, as did the first and second place entries, but ended up third with Brooke Bodenhorst up for the strong finish.

Marking the cards very consistently in the over 2 amateur stake, the first and second place entries were both tied unanimously. Making an unforgettable performance for a second year in a row, Yes It's True paved his was to the roses, however this year, rather than trainer Sam Stafford in the open division, owner Phillipa Sledge took on the challenge and succeeded. Pas de Deux flawlessly finished reserve with second place votes across the board. Frankie Trull was up with John Whalen and Bill Shiflet cheering her on.

The championship brought an even steeper challenge on for Phillipa Sledge as she was now up against stars of the amateur under two and gentlemen's classes as well as the previous competition set by Frankie Trull and others in the amateur over two qualifier. All of these riders were looking forward to the championship ride as the 1999, 2000, and 2001 Amateur World's Grand Champion CH Winter Day was being officially retired later in the evening.

This year's group of amateur contenders were stars in their own right and adding greatly to the Sledge family's Louisville legacy, Phillipa pulled off the win again, this time capturing two first place ties with the former junior and open world's grand champion. Misdee Wrigley was all smiles as she accepted reserve grand champion honors with Callaway's County Fair for KAABA, Inc. with the assistance of Larry Hodge. Man On The Run, Sold Out Show, Pas de Deux, Designed, Sky High Money, and S.S. Lies and Alibis.

The Three-Gaited Ladies 15.2 and Over kicked off the walk-trot competition on Sunday evening with 11 pairs trotting onto the shavings hoping to start the week off right. For six of the last seven years the winner of this class had been CH My Front Page Lady who was being retired later in the week so there would be a new champion for 2002.

Having to hop from the fine harness buggy following her victory pass with Just About Perfect in the junior mare class, Lisa Strickland jumped up on her walk-trot mount, The Super Nova and trotted in to be crowned world champions for Rotunda Stables. Making a perfectly elegant fit with Melissa Moore, Page Me finished reserve for Sunrise Stables.

Much anticipation came along with the 12 entries in the under two ladies class. Would To Die For pull it off? Erin Boggs really came through and aggressively took a chance at a world title. She succeeded with two first place votes and a very happy Cape Cod Crew greeted her with smiles and tears at the gate. Phillipa Sledge concluded her Sunday night on top, accepting reserve with last year's champion, the Rob Byers trained Lady Periana.

The Ladies Three-Gaited Championship concluded Thursday evening's session. The under two champion and reserve champion came face to face with the top stars of the over 2 section. It was the smaller stars taking center stage as Phillipa Sledge with Lady Periana and Erin Boggs with To Die For both rode their hearts out. Lady Periana turned it up a notch while Erin had a slightly tougher go than earlier in the week. Sledge collected the roses moving up a notch from last year's championship, while an elated Boggs rode out as reserve world's champion. This was the first time in six years someone other than CH My Front Page Lady and Amy Dix wore the roses.

"I don't know what to say. This has just been an incredible week," explained Phillipa Sledge following the show. "I was proud of all three of my walk-trot horses."

The open division provoked chills. Leading up to the championship Saturday night, we saw grand performances in both the under and over two classes earlier in the week. Audrey Hepburn with Steve Joyce up collected the blue in the under two class for Morgan Wolin while Mark Hulse was up for reserve with Winefest. Joyce had the Harlelm's Hot Dice daughter marching an incredibly expressive trot for the world's title.

Nine entries showed up for the over two walk-trot stake and there had been a question all year as to who would win this one. When it was over there was no doubt in the judges' eyes nor the crowds' that American Wine was to be tied first. This was the third time in four years that George Knight made the victory pass for owner Bruce Hanson. Claiming reserve was Lexington's Three-Gaited Grand Champions In My Soul with Neil Visser up for Happy Valley Stables. This young daughter of I'm A New Yorker made her first ever show ring appearance back in May at the Asheville show.

One of the contenders from the over 15.2 stake, Mitchell Clark's winning stallion, Castle Bravo, twice lost a shoe and ended up leaving qualified to come back on Saturday night.

The $25,000 Three-Gaited Championship was one of the featured events on Saturday night's card. Eight condenders from various divisions came back for a shot at the roses. As the stars came through the gate the surprise entry of the night was the three-year-old sensation An Heir About Her. Not since 1992 when Mitch Clark rode Memories Citation in an attempt to duplicate his grandfather Garland Bradshaw's history making ride from 1966 had a three-year old challenged for the big stake.

On Saturday night, Chris Reiser was up for that same challenge. After winning the three-year-old futurity earlier in the week, Reiser came park trotting into the ring aboard the fancy mare, owned by Steve Hanes, with his eyes focused on making every pass count and just showing this horse the best he could. He had a tough task as every entry was looking their best. Melissa Moore's entry, Lime Twisted Gin, who was a star earlier in the week in the junior division, was ready for the challenge as well. Six others, who have accomplished impressive resumes all season, included the multi-titled stallion Castle Bravo; the three-year-old sensation Royal Messenger; Lexington's grand champion In My Soul; the former juvenile world's champion now amateur star Timeless Drifter, current under 15.2 world's champion Audrey Hepburn and Harrodsburg's grand champion Globetrotting Princess.

After the intense railwork the judges asked riders to strip their horses and present them one by one at the far end of the ring. Some wondered if anyone's confirmation would alter the judges's cards thus far. The crowd took their picks and cheered for their favorites. When it was all over, the eight entries retired and everyone's hearts were pounding. It seemed like it took forever to get the call, but when it was made the look on Chris Reiser's face made the anticipation worth every penny. He knew he'd made history and it's doubtful that he'll ever forget the incredible moment. Melissa Moore displayed incredible sportsmanship as she smiled and enjoyed the moment as well. Her number was called out next as junior horse Lime Twisted Gin was named the reserve world's grand champion.

The fans cheered as the remaining performers were awarded their championship prizes: Castle Bravo, Royal Messanger, In My Soul, CH Timeless Drifter, Audrey Hepburn, and Globetrotting Princess.

An Heir About Her's owner Steve Hanes, was still in shock days after the victory. "It was so umbelieveable, having a three-year-old and all," said an elated Hanes. "I don't know much about all this but I do know what you're up against in that class. It was all Chris and Chad [Reiser]. They trained the horse and they even picked her out. It was just unbelieveable."

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