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UPHA Night At The Royal

by Bob Funkhouser

Outside of Saturday night at Louisville, Thursday evening in Kansas City is the single biggest night of showing in the Saddlebred/Hackney industry. Three-year-old Saddlebreds and ponies four and under from across the nation meet one last time in Kemper Arena to determine the Dabora/UPHA Classic Grand Champions. This year $106,600 in prize money was up for grabs. There was also another $21,000 in UPHA Classic Incentive Sale money that was to be divided among any ribbon winners who were purchased through the 2003 sale. Five youngsters who had gone through the sale showed and as it turned out, three placed and took home an extra $7,000 each.

There are other programs with bigger prize money. However, the UPHA Classics remain a staple for the industry offering many qualifying classes across the country in the eight divisions for Saddlebreds and Hackneys. The program promotes the showing of young horses and ponies and the added prize money certainly helps pay a few expenses along the way.

For the second year, Dabora, Inc. (Saddle Horse Report/Horse World Magazine/World Champion Horse Equipment) was the sponsor of the star studded UPHA Classic Grand Championships which featured 21 ponies competing in different divisions to go with 51 Saddlebreds also competing for four grand championships.

Dabora publisher Christy Howard Parsons was on hand to present the trophy in the first event of the evening and that nine-entry Fine Harness Classic set the tone for a night of high class competition. Judges Johnny Lucas, Gene van der Walt, and George Knight had a wealth of talent from which to crown the 2005 champions.

When the three had walked the line up and turned in their cards there was a unanimous champion for this battle of world’s champions. Winner of the Three-Year-Old ASR National Futurity world’s title just a few months ago, Castledream (Castle Bravo x A Daydream Believer) was absolutely sensational again with Todd Graham making the winning drive for Pinekrest Farm. They were rewarded with a $6,400 pay check. By the week’s end many horsemen had this entry as the star of the entire show.

Winner of section A of the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding World’s Championship, Gothic Revival (by Revival) had two of the three second place votes to earn reserve money of $4,800. Melissa Moore made each pass count for Tricolor Saddlebreds. A third place finisher in the Three-Year-Old National Futurity, His Supreme Reflection was also third in the Fine Harness Classic Championship. Lynda Freseth was at the whip for owner Marilyn Gaiswinkler who collected $2,400 in prize money.

Mike Hylton and Into The Wind were next in line with a fourth place finish for Jacquelyn and Robert Shupe. Their check was for $1,600. With a second place vote and a strong ovation from the crowd, world’s champion The Paper Princess JJW finished in fifth. Owner/breeder Jay Wood made the strongest drive of the year with the Supreme Heir daughter. They were followed by Charmed By Chance and Dena Lopez, General Spirit (a former Classic Incentive Sale colt) with Raymond Shively, and Fort Chiswell’s Magic Charmer with Wyatt DeHart. A total of $17,800 was distributed to the top eight ribbon winners.

Lucas and van der Walt joined Randy Harper on the three-judge panel for the Dabora/UPHA Road Pony Classic Grand Championship. As with most years road ponies represented the largest turnout in the Hackney division. Seven entries went at it this year but none could top the performance of Junior Road Pony World’s Champion of Champions K & J’s Aviator. Driven by Maureen Lydon for Darrell Vaughn, this sportster could separate his gears. The son of Heartland Skyline and K & J’s Miss Liberty won $2,480 of the $7,100 offered with two of the three first place votes. The other top vote went to reserve grand champion Heartland In A Minute. This son of World’s Grand Champion Heartland Equality was also a reserve world’s champion this year with owner/driver/breeder Darrel Kolkman.

This was an extremely talented group of young road ponies as world’s champion Heartland Carolee (by Dun-Haven Bandolier) also made a strong show but had to settle for a third place finish. She was again driven by Steve Old for Delton Farm. Heartland Showin Off, Regal’s Pandora LF, Snapshot, and Mastercraft’s Rhythm & Blues rounded out the money winners.

The Dabora/UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Classic Grand Championship was relatively light with just five entries. From the first crop sired by the legendary Heartland Equality, Heartland Exceptionallee led the way with two of the three top votes from judges Harper, Van der Walt and Knight. A winning check of $2,240 was presented to owner/driver/breeder Darrel Kolkman. Heartland trainer Craig Hannah greeted the grand champions in the winner’s circle. Reserve money of $1,680 was presented to Mastercraft’s Julie LF, a homebred star from Light Farm driven by Erick Kirsch. Cindy Ireland and Daddy Oh were right there in third, while Fitz Phantom and James Yonker took a fourth place ribbon back to Illinois, despite having one first place vote. Truly Marked was the final ribbon winner.

With 21 entries flooding the ring, $25,000 was at stake in the Dabora/UPHA Park Pleasure Classic. After working both ways of the ring and stripping for conformation judging, 10 entries were chosen for a second look. This was a group of world title holders mixed with up and coming stars. There were also a few that went out that you will hear from next year.

After the three-year-olds again did their three gaits both ways of the ring, the final cards were tabulated. Registering two of the three first place votes Reedann’s Phine By Me(Phi Slama Jama x Callaway’s Mother May I) and Louie Low were escorted to the winner’s circle by Dr. Alan Raun. Theirs was the largest check of the evening, $9,280. Picking up his first big check of the evening, Todd Miles earned $6,960 aboard My One Night Stand. Lynda Norman owns this son of CF First Night Out. Carrie Wooten McLinney and Blackboard were a good third in the large class and they were followed by Arabian trainer Ross Tarkington and his entry, Madeira’s Country. World’s champion Mother Mary was next, followed by Undulata’s Lost and Found and Bluebonnet’s Challenger.

Along the way Darrel and Sandy Kolkman have formed some partnerships with longtime California breeder Mary Dell Pritzlaff and many times those ventures have paid off handsomely. One such example is Dabora/UPHA Hackney Pony Classic Grand Champion Seamair Simply Awesome (Dun-Haven Truly Awesome x Heartland Simplicity). Darrel Kolkman was in the viceroy to pick up the $2,120 winning pay check. Joy Lazarus and Heartland Center Attraction were reserve grand champions among the four entries. Desire and Chris Gantley marched up for third, while Perfect Star LF rounded out the competition.

Among the 10 entries for the Dabora/UPHA Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Classic Grand Championship several were current world title holders. It was a strong mix of quality and talent vying for the $18,100 in prize money that was on the line. A relative newcomer to the walk-trot division, Can You Hear Me Now (Desert’s Supreme Memories x Now Listen Hear) was a reserve world’s champion in the harness ranks back in August. He qualified for the three-gaited classics in his under saddle debut at St. Louis and then took Kemper Arena with a unanimous decision for the Classic Grand Championship. Todd Miles was aboard the Mary Jane Fredrickson entry to garner his second big paycheck of the evening.

Purchased through the UPHA Classics Incentive Sale two years ago, Coco Royale (CH The King Of Highpoint x Coco G.S.) suffered his first defeat of the year. Winner of the UPHA Classic at Indy as well as the prestigious ASR National Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Futurity World’s Championship, this young star was again going a big, four-cornered trot to be named the unanimous reserve grand champion. Tré Lee provided the strong ride for Bonnie Lee’s Saddlewood Farm. In addition to the $4,890 in second place money, Coco Royale picked up another $7,000 as part of the Classics Incentive Sale added money.

Todd Graham was riding hard to claim the yellow streamers with Callaway’s Photo Opportunity for Michael Curry. World’s champion Hallelujah Chorus returned to Texas with the white ribbon for Mike Breeggemann and Destiny Farm. Clark Clouse was also in the hunt with Elmo Greer’s Son, Moon and Stars to command fifth place money. Also making the money board were Callaway’s Wanna Bet, Caught Stealin, and Classic With A Twist.

In recent history Heartland Hackney Farm has entertained the Kansas City crowds with some of the most dynamic young ponies ever seen. That held true again this year in the Dabora/UPHA Harness Pony Classic Grand Championship. Heartland Beautiful Dreamer (Heartland Victory x Heartland Beauty) waved her legs like no other and was absolutely beautiful wearing the harness. With Darrel Kolkman at the whip for Darrel and Sandy Kolkman, she left little doubt among the panel of Harper, Lucas, and Van der Walt, as well as the audience, that she was the 2005 Classics Grand Champion. Heartland Beautiful Dreamer picked up $2,280 for her win.

The judges’ cards were scrambled after first place, however, the topnotch performance of Wind In The Willows and Maureen Lydon secured the reserve grand champion title and $1,710 paycheck for owner Kathryn Nichols. A third place prize went to Cindy Ireland’s Unique Presentation, while world title holder Heartland Love Me Up was fourth and Heartland Believe In Me took fifth.

There was just one event left and that was the 11-horse Dabora/UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic Grand Championship. A total of $19,300 was at stake with $7,000 going to the grand champion. Like the other classic championships, it took a world class performance to make the top of the judges’ cards and that is exactly what Bono delivered with his unanimous decision. The son of Desert’s Supreme Memories and Mountain Maria completed an undefeated season, including a Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding (Sec. B) World’s Champion title. Trainer Bret Day was aboard for all of Bono’s winning performances, representing owner Karen Mayer of Anchorage, Ky. Reserve grand champion honors and a check for $5,250 went to Sheriff Gaines, an entry owned by Theresa Vonderschmitt and shown by Todd Miles. Named after DeLovely sidekick Sheriff Peanut Gaines, this colt gave Miles a win and two reserves on this special night.

Making a big splash at the Kentucky Fall Classic, I’m Something Wicked had a second and third place vote to finish third in the ribbons. Joe Elam was again riding for River Dreams LLC. Another graduate of the Classic Incentive Sale of 2003, Roseridge Posted Note was fourth with veteran Martin Cockriel turning in a first class ride among the deep competition. Their $7,000 bonus money made the trip to back to Colorado a little nicer. Rounding out the top five was Todd Graham aboard Callaway’s Smooth Sailing. Also in the money were Supremacy’s Melody, Take A Guess, and Charming Dreams.

This brought to a close another great night of UPHA Classic Grand Championship. Breeding programs across the country seem to be doing well as several farms and sires were represented in the Saddlebred division. Former Five-Gaited World’s Champion Stallion and American Royal Five-Gaited Grand Champion Desert’s Supreme Memories did lead the way with two Classic Grand Champions. The pony division was again dominated by products bred and raised at Heartland Hackney Farm.

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