Skip to content

UPHA/American Royal - Friday Evening

Friday night is a celebration of a fight here at the UPHA/American Royal National Championship. This organization continues to raise money for the UPHA Pink Ribbon Program, culminating with Friday’s final class, the UPHA Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship. This amazing program has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the fight against breast cancer, with this Friday night finale becoming one of the most competitive classes of the entire year. A huge field of 15 came to the ring, introduced individually by Peter Fenton, riding hard for the National Championship and riding hard for the cure.

After a spectacular display, the class was pinned in reverse order, as tradition dictates. The balance of the riders were presented as Pink Ribbon Participants before the ribbon winners were called, an excellent change for this class for 2011. Eighth place was then awarded to Bono and Linda Fischer, riding for sister Karen Mayer. CH Pucker Up followed in seventh in this wonderfully talented class. Alexandra Lilly rode for Ceil and Kenny Wheeler. The sixth award was presented to Tango Mango and Maria Gilman. Fifth went to CH I’m Something Wicked, with Mary Marcum Orr riding for Pair Of Jacks Stables. CH The Decisive Moment and Annika Bruggeworth wound up fourth with a wide-open performance. Earlier in the evening, proud mom Annika’s young World’s and National Champion, Scotty Brooks Bruggeworth, was saluted by announcer Peter Fenton for his unanimous UPHA Walk-and-Trot Challenge Cup National Championship earlier today.

With that, three horses and riders remained in the ring, three of the most decorated horses and riders in today’s show horse world. Fox Grape’s Dauntless remained at the far end, with Dr. Owen Weaver sitting aboard her reigning Ladies World’s Champion of Champions. Catalyst’s Work Of Art was there as well, with Nancy Leigh Fisher, one of the best amateur riders the Saddlebred world has ever seen, awaiting the judges’ decision. And there too sat Gayle Lampe with the great CH Callaway’s Born To Win. There has been just one horse to ever win this UPHA Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship, and it has been Born To Win. His daughter, Callaway’s Born For This, had already won a National Championship earlier in the night, and now here he sat in the familiar position, waiting for his number to be called in this reverse order. His had always come up last in this roll call of amazing talent, four times in a row in fact. Four times the National Champion, he came up against perhaps the toughest field yet in this event. Tonight, the 18-year-old now-gelding son of Callaway’s Blue Norther and the Broodmare Hall of Fame mare Lady Gambler came up just shy of a fifth title, placing third. Peter Fenton gave the grand gelding a salute, as the crowd rose to salute Gayle and Born To Win with a standing ovation. Fenton asked them to take a round of honor, and they obliged, as the crowd went wild for the longtime denizen of Mike Roberts Stable.

It was time then to meet the Reserve National Champion and National Champion. Reserve honors went back to Autumn Hills with Fox Grape’s Dauntless and Dr. Owen Weaver. It seems like overkill to discuss this beautiful geldings pedigree over and over again, but he was absolutely bred to be one of the very best. By the Vias’ late Dorian Wild Temper, Dauntless is out of the unbelievably talented World’s Grand Champion Five-Gaited mare, CH Garland’s Dream, by Harlem Globetrotter. Owen has put together quite a year with the chestnut star, winning eight times and finishing reserve twice in their 10 classes. Ladies Gelding winners on Tuesday night, they were also Ladies Gelding World’s Champions and Ladies World’s Champion of Champions. It was an impressive campaign under the direction of Steve and Tiffany Wheeler for the Fox Grape Farms entry.

It has been an incredible journey to this Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship for Catalyst’s Work Of Art. By Catalyst and out of Art Work, by Harrods Burg, Work Of Art began her career as a Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Mare Reserve World’s Champion, with UPHA Hall of Fame trainer Phil Price at the lines. From there, she went to Jim Lowry, who guided her to the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Mare World’s Championship the next season. On to Hollow Haven she went from there with new owner Nancy Leigh Fisher. Andy Freseth would go on to win the 2006 UPHA Five-Gaited Classic Grand Championship with the beautiful filly. A year later she returned to Freedom Hall as the Junior Five-Gaited Mare Reserve World’s Champion. Now here we are in 2011, returning to the ring she loves so well for the first time since that UPHA Classic National Championship. She took it to the Ladies Mare class to win that one on Tuesday night and now she sits atop the division as the UPHA Pink Ribbon Ladies National Champion. What more can be said about the great Nancy Leigh Fisher? We don’t have to even include her last name. Everyone knows who “Nancy Leigh” is. And why wouldn’t they? She remains one of only two amateur lady riders to ever capture the Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship, taking that title in 2003 with CH Callaway’s Forecaster. And now she has another great one in Catalyst’s Work Of Art. This ladies division now shapes up as one of the deepest fields for 2012, with Dauntless headlining the gelding division and Work Of Art ready to take on the mares. It will be a knockdown dragout fight once all the rest of the contenders stake their claim and the horse show world couldn’t be happier about it.

The UPHA Exceptional Challenge Cup led the way on Friday night, as is tradition, crowning its National Champions. Sierra Sarmiento made her first trip to these finals worthwhile, as she came away as the Overall National Champion. Her trainer Nicole Foster was proud as could be of her young rider from the Lone Star State. Megan Kehoe was the Reserve National Champion in this her second appearance in the National Finals. She rides with Therapeutic Horsemanship of Wentzville, Missouri. The loudest cheer of the night came for the Physically Challenged Reserve National Champion, Rachel Sanchez. Riding out of her High Caliber home, she is the daughter of proud mom Stefanie Sanchez and granddaughter of Sharyn Lackey. This horse showing family has had a wonderful few years, with Rachel leading the way. Krista Koch was the Physically Challenge National Champion, while Robert Castellitto was the Non-Physically Challenged tri-color recipient. Lauren Andrews was the Non-Physically Challenged Reserve National Champion.

Kirstie Buerkley made a nice solo show with Heartland Globetrotter to pick up yet another National Championship for Majestic Oaks in the AHHS Hackney/Harness Pony Medallion Finals. The Kentucky County Fair Hackney Pony Reserve Champion with Maureen Campbell, Globetrotter is owned by Sandra Surber. By Heartland Equality, he is out of Heartland Ashley. Stacy Beam played “Sweet Georgia Brown” for their victory pass.

Tara Grom and CH With Style And Grace completed their magnificent campaign in undefeated style, winning the Amateur Three-Gaited National Championship for the second year in a row. Game as the day is long, Gracie is now the two-time defending National Champion and World’s Champion of Champions in this division. The incredible chestnut daughter of Sir William Robert is trained by DeLovely. This is her third National Championship title, as she was the 2008 UPHA Park Pleasure Classic National Champion as well. Morgan King made one of her best rides yet to pick up the Reserve National Championship for Judd Stables. She has teamed well with Hillside’s Sensation this season, beginning and ending it with reserve wins. By Classic Memories, Sensation is out of CSF Twice Supreme. This will be a team to watch, as when they are on their game, they are tough to beat. Trust In Love and Megan Dragich were third, with Tom Lewis and Rick Daigle in fourth.

The highly decorated cob-tail entry of Toni Nastali added another title to his resume as Heartland Rough And Ready captured the Amateur Hackney Pony National Championship. It has been Majesic Oaks Pony Power today at the Royal, as they have won national title after national title. The Amateur Ladies Reserve World’s Champion this year, Rough And Ready is by Heartland Victory and out of a Dun-Haven Bandolier mare. He was the 2009 Junior Hackney Pony World’s Champion of Champions with Maureen Campbell at the lines. Reserve for the second time this week was the longtime contender, CH The Final Contender. Linda Lewis drove to the Reserve National Championship under the direction of the venerable Jim McIntosh.

Janet Danuser’s bay beauty, Sterling Price, came away with his second win of the week, this time without having to go a second workout. Kent Swalla is the rider and trainer of this Tom Bass Memorial Mo/Kan Five-Gaited Champion. It was 2008 when Sterling Price captured a Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding World’s Championship. Mike Breeggemann took the Reserve Championship aboard A New York Surprise. By Forty-Third Street and out of a Penny’s Superior Stonewall mare, New York Surprise is owned by Jess and Marjorie Bain.

Abigail Mutrux added yet another National Championship to her burgeoning resume, winning the Saddle Seat Equitation title tonight aboard Lemon Shake Up WRF. The NHS Good Hands National Champion won for the second time on the day, taking the 14-15 age group qualifier this afternoon. Trained by DeLovely, Abby has been a superstar since her walk-and-trot days, when she was the 8-and-Under World’s Champion of Champions. Back then she was rewarded with a tube of cookie dough for her World’s Championship performance, but the prizes have probably changed since those days. Taylor Newton was also a walk-and-trot World’s Champion, winning the 9-10 title in 2005. Many times a World’s Champion since then, Taylor was the Reserve National Champion tonight aboard CH EQ A Sweet Sensation. Taylor has several impressive reserve wins on the year. In addition to this one, she was Senior Equitation Reserve World’s Champion of Champions, 16-Year-Old Reserve World’s Champion, Saddle & Bridle’s Pleasure Equitation Medallion Reserve National Champion, and the 14-17 Pleasure Olympics Silver Medalist for Sugar Knoll Farm.

At 18 years old, CH Free Willy romped to a repeat victory in the Road Pony National Championship. How about this for a season: 20 victories against just one reserve finish. The season’s accolades include this National Championship, plus two Amateur Road Pony World’s Championships and the Equine Services Roadster Pony Cup title. Jayne Romano has been at the lines all year long for this grand pony, one of the best to ever pull the pony bike. Trainer Jan Lukens and Charlie Jones joined Jayne for her round of honor. Meredithe Steinhauer had her best drive yet with Thunderation to earn the Reserve National Championship. Rich Campbell headed up the Majestic Oaks-trained entry in the lineup. Meredithe sped down the rail in her black and gold silks for Denise Steinhauer. This team has been together for a long time, as they drove to a 14-17 Road Pony World’s Championship in 2005. The Wizard LF and Landon Rowland got a nice round of applause from the hometown crowd in third for Ever Glades Farm.

A full brother to CH New York’s Perfect Gift, Ed’s Perfect Treat was the Junior Three-Gaited winner here in Kansas City, just as he was at the All American Horse Classic and in the Junior Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under World’s Championship. Tiffany Wheeler rode the entry of Glasscock Inc. By I’m A New Yorker and out of the grand walk-trot mare CH Undulata’s Perfect Gift ERB, Perfect Treat puts his head in just the right spot, never backing an ear. The Reserve National Championship went to Callaway’s Another Saturday Night and Sam Stafford. These two were Reserve World’s Champions a year ago in the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding qualifier. By Callaway’s The Gipper, Another Saturday Night is out of Callaway’s I’m A Lady Too, by Show Me Too. This entry of Hillcroft Farm was a top contender here tonight. Carol Hillenbrand and Work It were third here in their second show together, having finished reserve in the ASR Four-Year-Old Three-Gaited Sweepstakes at All American.

“From a family of equestrians, Catherine was Born For This,” said Peter Fenton as he called out the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited National Champion. Officially it was a unanimous victory for CH Callaway’s Born For This and Catherine Wheeler. An entry of Ceil and Kenny Wheeler, Born For This tore up the track once again tonight to take her second win of the week for the Mercer Springs team. Smith Lilly and assistant Ally Kopf ran to what they thought was the winner’s circle, then ran to the other side of the ring where the actual presentation was going to be made! Catherine joined them with a huge smile on her face. She made a full round and a half for her victory pass aboard the gray mare as the newly crowned National Champion. It was an impressive debut show for this new force in the junior exhibitor ranks. It was back to back placings for the gray horses, as Heirrison Ford was the Reserve National Champion with Morgan Billig riding for Carson Kressley. Also the Reserve World’s Champion of Champions, this gray gelding is trained by Kierson Farm. Morgan put on a phenomenal show tonight to take this reserve tri-color. Three-time defending World’s Champion of Champions and last year’s National Champion, CH Sprinkles was third tonight for Eleanor Rainbolt Forbes and the Rainbow Princess Farms.

Raymond Shively made a nice solo drive with Postmaster Mike to take the Roadster to Wagon Championship for Fish n Fun Farms and trainer Melinda Moore. Postmaster Mike was the Amateur Roadster to Wagon Reserve World’s Champion with Jon Dabareiner at the lines.

The reigning Junior Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions came ready to hold down that top spot in the division as The Plaza topped the Junior Five-Gaited class with Andy Freseth riding for Amanda Dellinger. Also a Junior Stallion/Gelding World’s Champion, The Plaza is another junior winner on the night by I’m A New Yorker. He is out of Penelope Cruz, by Leatherwood’s Starlight. His second dam is a half sister to Harlem Globetrotter and the great producer, Yorkshire Pudding. The fantastically named Stewie Griffin was the reserve winner, with Todd Graham riding for Tannehill Farms. By Designed and out of a Callaway’s Blue Norther mare, Stewie Griffin, for those not in the pop culture know, is named after the baby on Fox’s long-running cartoon, Family Guy. UPHA Five-Gaited Classic winner a year ago, the black mare, Cavalia, was third for Hillcroft Farm.

Majestic Oaks won yet again, this time in the Amateur Harness Pony National Championship. Crystal Creek’s Commander was all fired up again to take the tri-color with Linda Fischer driving for Sandra Surber. Reserve World’s Champion of Champions a year ago with former owner Kathryn Nichols, Commander is by Dun-Haven Center Attraction and out of a Jubilee’s Triumph mare. Linda Lewis picked up her second Reserve National Championship of the night, driving Mi Leonardo to reserve under the direction of Jim McIntosh. By Truly Unique, Mi Leonardo is out of a Dun-Haven Ringmaster mare.

The fantastic night continued for the Lukens Stables team and Jayne Romano’s family, as daughter Paula Percoco bested a field of 15 to be crowned Three-Gaited Show Pleasure National Champion. Tchaikovsky was bred to be one of the best in this division. By Undulata’s Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky is out of the great CH Heir Style. Heir Style, of course, was herself a World’s Champion in Show Pleasure before going on to win yet more World’s Championships as a walk-trot pony. The versatile mare gave her pleasure perfect ways to her five-year-old son for certain. Tchaikovsky seems to love this ring, as he has won here every year he has shown, taking the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness class in 2009 and the Junior Park Pleasure class a year ago with Paula once again in the saddle. Also by Nutcracker, Undulata’s Fashion Plate was the Reserve National Champion in this matchup of the two age group qualifier winners. Also a five-year-old gelding, Fashion Plate is out of Riva’s Fashion Spirit, the dam of Undulata’s Georgie Girl. High-headed and bright in the bridle, Fashion Plate was ridden to the reserve title by Piper Bordegon for Maribelle Granger. Directed by Shelley Fisher, Fashion Plate has been a star all year, with wins at Lexington and a Reserve World’s Championship as well. Mighty Thor and Carol Hillenbrand finished up in third, with The Mansion and Annika Bruggeworth fourth. Dr. Morgan Wolin finished in fifth, with Schroeder.

There was a special moment as Peter Fenton called out the sixth-place winner. This was CH Lightnin’ Lil. Nicolle Beltz Tolliver was aboard as only she has been for the last nine seasons with this incredible mare. By Supreme Heir and out of Crystal Harmony, by Attache, Lightnin’ Lil made her final show ring appearance tonight. The crowd saluted this grand champion for her many years of greatness, as Peter Fenton recounted her tale. This mare was the final World’s Champion for the late Maria Knight, winning the ASR National 3-Year-Old Park Pleasure Futurity World’s Championship in 2000. After the untimely passing of Maria Knight, her daughter, Toni, made the unbelievably emotional ride to with the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic National Championship in this very ring. Since that first World’s Championship, Lightnin’ Lil has gone on to win five more world titles with Nicolle Beltz Tolliver in the saddle, winning their Louisville qualifier five out of the last seven years. They finished their final week in Freedom Hall with a qualifier Reserve World’s Championship. Now 14 years old, CH Lightnin’ Lil retires to produce more like herself. Already she has one in the show ring, as Nicolle showed the four-year-old bay mare, Lilly’s In Town, this week at the Royal.

It was apparently a big night for Russian names, as the unanimous choice of the judges in the Amateur Park Championship was Stravinsky. Brittany McGinnis rode the namesake of the grand composer to the tri-color for Fish Creek Stables and DeLovely Farm. It has been a phenomenal first week in this new division for Brittany and Stravinsky, sweeping both of their classes. A Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited World’s Champion in 2009 and 2010, this tandem has embraced these new digs to take nothing but top honors. The multi-world-titled CH Doctor Zhivago was the Reserve National Champion, his second reserve of the week for owner/rider Maguire Hall and trainer Dena Lopez. The reigning World’s Champion of Champions in this division looked stellar tonight in black and white, always dressed for a formal event wherever he goes. Lady Bravada and Barbara Goodman Manilow finished third for Skyline Stables, repeating the top three placings from the qualifier.

Bones and Jones capped off a three for three night for Lukens Stables, winning the Amateur Roadster to Bike National Championship for the third time in four years. Last year, the only year Mr’s Bones didn’t win this title, he was the Open National Champion! Also a three time World’s Champion of Champions in this division, Mr’s Bones teamed once again with Charlie Jones. Bones took his 23rd victory pass of the year with this win tonight. If not for his previous few seasons, that would have the potential to be unprecedented. He keeps on showing and keeps on going, winning everywhere he goes. In the past three seasons, he has not finished lower than second. The always popular Iamnotacow was the Reserve National Champion, following Bones just as he did in Freedom Hall as the Reserve World’s Champion of Champions. Debra Clark drove to the reserve title under the direction of Jon Walker. She enjoyed an absolutely wonderful season with this high-headed Standardbred. Trio Bolero G and Misdee Wrigley Miller, winners of this class a year ago, rounded out the top three for Hillcroft Farm.

More Stories