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Tom Bass Classic Makes Its Debut

By Karen W. Coup

COLUMBIA, Mo., -- Named in memory of the famed Missouri trainer, the first Tom Bass Classic Horse Show made its debut May 22-25 at the Midway Expo in Columbia, Mo.

Show manager Lenard Davenport hates to see horse shows die, but if one does, as the long-time Good Samaritan show in Springfield, Mo., did, he goes the extra mile to replace it and liked the idea of honoring Tom Bass. Aided this year by the Janian Show Series organization, the infant show had light entries, but Davenport is already enthusiastically planning the 2004 event, possibly to be located in Springfield rather than Columbia. "We did this one to get it on the calendar, and have great expectations for the success of next year's show," said Davenport.

Missourians revere the memory of Tom Bass. Born in 1859 into slavery in Boone County, Bass trained horses for Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody. A trainer noted for his kind methods, he invented a humane curb bit, still produced today as the Tom Bass Bit. (Its image appeared on the show's ribbon rosettes.) Bass helped organize the show that became the American Royal, and was so widely respected in the early Saddle Horse industry that he was allowed to show with white trainers, even though segregation was the norm during that time.

Judge Tom Scott of Princeton, Minn., took charge of a full range of classes for Saddlebreds, road horses, ponies and saddle seat equitation. Western and hunt seat classes, Morgans, Arabians and Sunday’s Academy classes were judged by Cheryl Manahan of Wichita, Kan.

Exhibitors enjoyed four Exhibitors Parties (two featured ice cream--cake and fruit—cheese), a well decorated ring and experienced officials, all thanks to the professional management of Davenport's team. “I especially want to thank my staff for always doing a great job,” he said, noting that those behind the scenes seldom receive adequate acknowledgment.

Davenport titled some classes after famous Saddle Horses, and the fine harness class named for the Lemon Drop Kid drew the attention of one special show attendee, gracious Glenna Utz of Independence, Mo., whose late husband, Jay, showed the famous harness horse.

This show was a big family affair, with several 2nd and 3rd generation families showing, including the Osburgs and the Kaplans from Mike Roberts Stable. Kirk Osburg and daughter Alison took home the Five-Gaited Stake and Academy Walk-Trot-Canter Championships, respectively. Chris Kaplan didn't show, but helped coach son Max to a win with his pretty pony Seamair’s Dear Sir.

Jennifer Simmons won the Park Pleasure Stake and reserve in the Park Stake with horses that could have passed for a matched pair, Lydian and Choclatier. Three generations of the St. Louis area Phelps family enjoyed the show, with tiny Abigail Mutrux winning the Walk/Trot 10 and Under Equitation and the Walk/Trot Championship. Her mom, Jean Phelps Mutrux, won the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic with the big and showy Brush Creek’s The Patriot, owned by grandmother Marjorie Phelps.

Ollie Mae Knipp was on the rail supporting daughter Anna Marie as she won the Country Pleasure Driving qualifier and championship with their Jimmy Miller-trained and co-owned Ollie By Golly. Kelly and Mark Hulse brought daughter Megan for the Academy show and she took home several blues. The Wessels had both daughters at the show. Makayla Wessel won AHHS Under Saddle Pony class with Outa The Blue. R.S. Palmer and daughter Rhonda Sue Dickerson won high ribbons, with Ruth on the rail as always. Stacy Swalla's Bright One took the blue in the Ladies Five-Gaited, and Linda Hollett of Chavez Stables won the Five-Gaited Amateur Stallion-Gelding with Shamrock’s Return. Her stablemate Carol Friel and Burlington Northern topped the Park Pleasure Junior class. CH Bazooka Joe, sporty as ever with Cydney Cutchall up, won both five-gaited pleasure classes.

Instructed by Brenda Benner, elegant Christina Sloan double-qualified for the two adult equitation finals by winning the USAE Medal and the UPHA Challenge Cup. Young Scott Pisarik qualified for Kansas City with his USAE Junior Medal class victory and also won his Saddle Seat Equitation 13 and under age group for instructor Maggi Montgomery of Wild Venture Stables in Wentzville, Mo.

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