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Thursday's Morgan Grand National Competition Highlights


Despite a fun evening at the Progressive Barn Party last night, the Grand National crowd was in their seats bright and early Thursday morning for what promised to be an outstanding slate of morning classes. Starting off the session were a pair of three-year-old mares and geldings in the park saddle division. Jim Lowry and Ultra's Dark Shadow brought a winning season at Midwest, Indiana Morgan and Jubilee to a rousing crescendo with a unanimous win for owners Lynn and James Miller. Frank Miller directed GMH Flash Dance and Caprice Zoumaras to the reserve title for Giesick Morgans.

Next up were the Pleasure Driving Geldings, with seven talented entries working for the Grand National title. Rick Lane met the champions Medomak French Invasion and Jeff White in the winner's circle. Owners Mary Wilson and Dorothy Blackwood celebrated this victory which also followed stellar victories at Connecticut and New England. Bob Kellert and Cedar Creek Pazazz earned the well-deserved reserve honors for Donald Weibel, followed by Peggy Alderman and AFF Leroy Brown in third.

The Park Saddle Ladies Mare class got the morning crowd going with lots of vocal support for the favorites. Rick Stevens celebrated in the winner's circle with the unanimous champions, KD Hot to Trot and Anne Benson. The move from park harness to park saddle has proved a prosperous one for this team! Receiving the reserve honors and lots of appreciative applause were Kim Caisse and RWF Noelle, an entry owned by Phil and Gloria Blevins.

Only four entries competed in the English Pleasure Amateur Stallion class, but the competition was so close, the result was a three-way true tie. This forced three entries back to the rail for more work - CCR's Outrajus Corajus and Karie Miller, HVK Man About Town and Dr. Kevin Schengrund, and Nicoria and Amy Gatewood. The crowd did their part to urge on the champions and in the end, the judges came to a unanimous decision. Karie Miller and CCR's Outrajus Corajus were crowned the champions to the delight of Stacy Hennessy who met them in center ring. Nicoria and Amy Gatewood earned the reserve honors and appreciative applause of the audience. HVK Man About Town and Dr. Kevin Schengrund received the third place award and also left the ring with the appreciation of the crowd.

Twelve beautiful youngsters competed in the Two-Year-Old Pleasure Driving World Futurity, but once again the judges had no trouble coming to a unanimous decision. Kurt Hufferd earned the first place prize with MEM The Patriot, by Futurity French Command, for the SpringMill Morgans. Judy Whitney Harris and Legendary and Noble earned the reserve tricolor honors for J.D. and Susan Symer.

Seventeen entries competed for the English Pleasure Amateur Gelding honors. Last year, John T. Green and Roadshow Steppin Out were reserve in this class, but a new granddaughter sitting right on the rail must have given them the little edge they needed to top the outstanding class. Joel Chauran and Tamarisk On Target were the closest challengers earning reserve honors for their efforts for Tamarisk Morgans.

Last year's World Champion Pleasure Driving Four-Year-Old DreamMaster J'st Sharper and Gerry Rushton continued their Oklahoma winning streak topping the Pleasure Driving Mares. William and Connie Myers' DreamMaster Morgan Farm owns the lovely bay. Diane Conrady and JLH Coming Up Roses made the nice reserve presentation for Jack and Leslie Hill.

New England's Three-Year-Old Park Saddle Champion CN The Master's Flyte and Mike Goebig entertained the crowd with a solo performance in the Park Saddle Three-Year-Old Stallions. Cindy Nord bred and owns the promising son of The Master's Touch. Helen Crawford took the lines of the lovely Tug Hill Whamunition baby, Abracabam, to earn unanimous honors in the Classic Pleasure Driving Three-Year-Old World Futurity for the Boston Morgan Farm. Renee Page and SMS More-Tinique earned the reserve honors in the performing for owner Barry Laub.

Another New England winner, IGF What's The Question answered the judge's questions to earn a unanimous decision in the English Pleasure Three-Year-Old Mares. Trainer Jim Lowry was on top throughout the class, but a loose girth slipped him to the side briefly while waiting to make his victory pass. Ever the charmer, Lowry stepped to the ground, tipped his hat to the crowd and remounted to show them more of this delightful champion. David Rand and EKL Joyfull Vision were also crowd favorites in the outstanding class of nine to earn reserve honors for Dantree Farm.

 Exhibiting charm and grace beyond her years, Kylee Cochran and FZM Encore claimed victory in the Park Harness Junior Exhibitor 16 and 17 Class. Trainer Jim Taylor directs last year's reserve champion through their paces. Mom and Dad, Penny and Harold Cochran were delighted with the win. The former world championship pairing of Jim Sebring and Com-o-shun's Avante earned the reserve honors in the outstanding class for Comoshun Morgans.

Finishing off the exciting morning session, John Stephenson directed Tara's Heavenly to the winner's circle in the English Pleasure Amateur Mare Class to the delight of trainer Glenn Bouvier. Casey McDonald and Southern Rhythm earned the reserve honors for Firewind Morgans with a sharp performance.

Starting off the afternoon session, defending World Champion Junior Exhibitor 14-17 Pleasure Driving, PT Stormin Norman and Whitney Hazen commanded a unanimous decision in the Junior Exhibitor 16 and 17 Pleasure Driving Class. Both mom and dad, Sammi and Bill Hazen met the champions in the winner's circle. Bob Kellert was also proud to assist his daughter Jennifer Kellert from the ring with reserve honors driving Oak Creek Chief of Staff for Ridgewood Farm.

Thirteen entries in the Classic Pleasure Saddle Junior Exhibitor 13 and Under World Championship vied for the judges attention. Tyler Hufferd and Bery Banke Toot Toot capped off a great season with wins from Indiana Morgan and New England, not to mention a win in the 12 and 13 year old Grand National class with a terrific world championship victory. Trainers Kurt Hufferd and Shanna Gish met him in the winner's circle while proud papa John Hufferd met them at the gate. Kelsey Ramsey and Med-E-Oka French Morocco were the closest challengers earning reserve honors for owner Sharon Holmes and proud trainer David Rand.

J.T. Brannon and Willowick Will To Wynne made a dapper pairing as they followed their Jubilee park harness debut with an Oklahoma title in the Park Harness Junior Exhibitor 15 & Under Class for Darlene Stodolski directed by Mary Brannon. It was another class of top driving offspring of trainers as AFF Savannah and Katherine Alderman earned reserve honors coached by Peggy Alderman.

Eighteen entries in the Walk and Trot Hunter Pleasure 9 and Under Finals forced the class to be worked in two sections. Six riders in each section returned immediately for the finals. After all that work, Suzanne Cairns and BMF Take Down The Flag were rewarded with the win. Whitney Hazen owns and Sammi Hazen directs the entry. Marie Wallich and Hidden Oak Clearly Chosen earned reserve honors in the competitive class to the delight of Lori Marino-Beasley.

Last year's Three-Year-Old Pleasure Driving World Futurity Champion graced the Oklahoma coliseum again. Janet Morgan and RJM Roulette were the team to beat in the nine-entry Pleasure Driving Amateur Ladies Finals as Mike Goebig directed them to the tricolor. The tricolor day for Hazen Training Center continued as Jacqueline Clapp and her handsome HVK March Flaire were the reserve winners in the good class.

Fourteen entries competed and modeled for the judges in the Three-Year-Old Western Pleasure World Futurity. Roger Brown and Gulfwind Triple Dare earned the top honors for William and Alice Nazzaro. This promising young champion is by Tug Hill Commando and out of Gulfwind Wild Star. Garn Walker directed his polished performing Metolius to the reserve honors in the big class.

Laura Stern's smile lit up the arena when her number was called in the Walk and Trot Hunter Pleasure 10-11 Finals. Stern rode LCS Strategically Speaking under Mike and Ann Slomkowski's direction. Ellen Lowden and QVM Gorgeous George earned the reserve honors in the 11 entry class representing the Pacific Northwest.

 HVK Primary Light and Carl Johnson repeated as Junior Exhibitor 13 and Under Pleasure Driving World Champions. This Tara Farm standout team won both their qualifier and championship last year, and did so this year as well in unanimous fashion. Alyssa Wick and Mirabel's Dartanyan finished in reserve to the champions in both classes for Hardwood Creek.

 Whitemud Touch Of Blue and Mike Goebig capped off a winning season at Southern States, Delmarva and Mid-A with a win in the English Pleasure Three-Year-Old Stallions and Geldings for Rhoda Hoenmans. Phil Fountain directed Freddie Mercury to the reserve honors in the four entry class for Gage Hill Morgans.

Zachary Howa has taken over the reins of his mom's Amateur Pleasure Driving World Champion with great success. Following up on wins at Far West and Morgan Medallion, Zach and Aristocraticallee earned a unanimous win in the Junior Exhibitor 14 and 15 Pleasure Driving class under the direction of Arcuri Stables. Ben Warner and Burkland Rafinesque earned reserve honors for Chris and Janet Morris as dad John Warner coached from the rail.

 Last year's World Champion Four-Year-Old Park Saddle Bellisima, (whose name has now been changed to Bellisimo due to registry issues) and Judy Whitney Harris were on top again in the park saddle division. This time the dynamic duo won the Park Saddle Ladies Gelding title fending off a field of six competitors. CN's Stylish Debut and Allyson Nord Wandtke earned the reserve honors in the outstanding class with quite a stylish presentation for Cindy Nord with Wandtke's young son Zach eagerly watching from the rail. Finishing off the afternoon session, thirteen entries vied for the Classic Pleasure Driving Gentlemen's Finals title.

 Already earning a reserve title in the stallion and gelding section, George Campbell and Gordel's Paramount Command wouldn't be denied their grand national as directed by Forest Nealon. Brett Bartley and Amabayus teamed up for reserve in the competitive class.

The evening session began with the AMHA Saddle Seat Gold Medal Finals. Twelve finalists competed on the rail and in individual workouts for judges Michael Craghead, Cary Bartz and Ray Krussell. Sarah Taylor was crowned the Gold Medal Champion under the guidance of Cape Cod Farm. Sarah has enjoyed a phenomenal season this year with wins in the Saddlebred and Morgan arenas including a Saddlebred World's Championship title at Louisville. Kara Hose showed her style and poise on the rail and the intricate workout as she earned the reserve honors aboard Trophy J's Valentine directed by Kathleen Peeples.

The grand veteran performer Trijas's Peter Pepper and Ashley Williams earned a unanimous win in the Roadster Under Saddle Amateur Finals for Marilyn North. Ben Warner and HVK Buckingham earned the reserve honors in the speedy class of young riders.

Keith Nelsen ran to center ring to greet his daughter Natalie who won the Western Pleasure Junior Exhibitor 13 and Under World Championship. Natalie and QVM Collector's Edition jogged away with the rose for Quincy Valley Morgans. The trend of top riding trainers kids continued as Hollie Luedtke and Evil Knievel were reserve winners in the good class.

Priscilla Marconi and her dynamic JW Raire Review capped off a great first season together that began with wins at Southern States and New England with a Grand National title in the Park Harness Amateur Mare and Gelding class. David Rand directs this outstanding team. Stephanie Connor and HVK Constantinoble earned reserve honors and a huge round of applause for their excellent performance.

 Twenty-eight Amateur Hunter Pleasure entries trapped two ringmasters on the rail, but after a break in the action to rescue the ringmasters, the twenty-eight competitors gave it everything they had to earn the right to stay as one of the twelve finalist who stayed to work again. In the end the Michigan riders dominated the top of the cards with the top three riders all hailing from Michigan. Mary Carlton's celebrated as the victorious trainer as Judy Fox and Shaker's Maribeles won the hard-fought class to earn a world championship title to add to their grand national hunter pleasure amateur mare title. Sight Unseen and Jennifer Cooley earned the reserve honors in the very competitive class to add to their two Grand National titles already this week. Cedar Creek Farm directed the second and third place finishers as Amy Gatewood gave Highover Narcotic a polished ride for the third place streamers.

The crowd at the rail grew as eleven pleasure driving stallions took to the ring to compete. Steve DeBolt and The Last Don were the last ones to leave the ring with the Grand National honors following a sensational performance. Last year's three-year-old winner, Total Request stepped up with the big boys as Tim Arcuri guided to the reserve honors for Sue Loomis.

Twenty-five classic pleasure saddle entries crowded into the ring to fight for their world championship. After the railwork and the strip, 12 horses were kept in the ring to vie for the tricolor and roses. The Grand National Stallion/Gelding Under 15.1 Hands winner, Prindle's Mere Mortal claimed the exclusive world championship honors with a beaming Leslie Kelley directing as proud husband Dan Kelley and trainer Mike Carpenter cheered them on. Lindsey Errington and Guns and Roses earned the reserve honors with a stylish performance for Gary, Nina and Lindsey Errington coached by Bert Earehart.

Capping off the evening, five park harness amateur stallions burst through the gate for the session closer. Brenda Varney and CN The Commanding Touch meant business from the time they hit the ring and never looked back as they scored the unanimous victory to the delight of trainer Rick Stevens. Ray Bendele and AMHF Mr. Courageous made some great passes of their own for the reserve title.

Show Arena 6    The morning session in arena 6 featured the age group competition in western seat equitation. It was a day to crown established champions as many of the winners are repeat winners from last year or have already won other grand national titles this year. Eight 10-11 year olds started off the session for the walk and trot finals for their age group. Amy Podesva rode Blacktie Affair to the winner's circle followed by Anna McLallin aboard Winsation's Bojangles. With a quick turnaround Winsation's Bojangles was right back in the ring with Suzanne Cairns to jog away with the 9 and under finals to the delight of the Hazen clan. They were followed by the adorable pairing of Sara Heidenreich and Fairhaven Federal Xpress.

Thirteen more senior riders next took to the ring with Kati Anderson repeating as a winner of this class from last year. Anderson has already also claimed the AMHA Western Seat Gold Medal Finals. Logan Nicole Mather claimed reserve honors in the 16 and 17 year old class. Kali Erin Hutchinson has already proven her proficiency in Hunt Seat on the Flat Equitation, winning the 14 and 15 year old class earlier this week. Today she proved her western seat prowess claiming the 14 and 15 year old class followed by New England Champion Ellen McQuade.

 Last year's World Champion Hunt Seat on the Flat Equitation, Alyssa Rumsey, has also already won a grand national title in hunt seat equitation. Today she added the title of 12 and 13 year old Western Seat Equitation to her impressive resume to continue an outstanding week for the versatile Crystal Farms riders. Jenna Britt rode DFM Poetic Justice to the reserve honors in the seven entry class.

 Hollie Luedtke returned to capture the 11 and Under Western Seat Equitation title for the second year in a row. Kimberly Forster earned reserve honors in the four entry class.

Finishing off the morning session in arena 6, we changed judges to work the Working Hunter Under Saddle entries. GF's Top Challenger bested a field of nine entries with Kirk Dallas directing for Big D Morgan Farm. Melendy Cash Bonus made an impressive show to earn reserve honors with Fawn McDaniel for Melendy Farm.

Arena 9 The morning session in ring 9 began with ten working hunter II entries vying for the Grand National title. Melendy Cash Bonus and Fawn McDaniel showcased their versatility and claimed the top honors followed by Kayla Suzanne Reser and PKF Hollywood. Grand National Jumper I and II champion returned to claim the Jumper III competition as well. Prairie Run Fools Gold and Betsy Irvin topped the six entries to earn the title for the William Woods University. LR Amie Savior Faire and Kate Silberman earned the reserve honors for Mears Morgans.

Returning to ring 9 in the afternoon, fourteen entries picked their own route to claim the Carriage Driving Obstacle Grand National title. Mary Jo Stockton earned the top awards with Royal Heart. Martha Wetmore and the consistent champion Beta B Provocative claimed reserve honors in the entertaining class.

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