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UPHA/American Royal - Friday Evening

The UPHA Exceptional Challenge Cup National Finals held their place of honor at the beginning of the Friday evening session, with a host of dignitaries joining for the presentation of awards. Triple Crown winner Kate Harvey Codeanne, along with her mom, Lynn McNamara, and daughter Molly Codeanne, was part of the impressive presentation. Their ovation paled in comparison, however, to the three-time UPHA Exceptional Challenge Cup National Champion, Cathy Gray, who also joined for the award presentation. Peter Fenton saluted this as the best and most competitive group the Exceptional Challenge Cup has ever had. The number of qualifiers showing this morning was 19, more than both the UPHA Junior Challenge Cup and the Walk-and-Trot Challenge Cup!

Sierra Sarmiento made it two years in a row to win the Overall National Championship in this one, as she and instructor Nicole Foster went to the winner’s circle they found a year ago as well. They were undefeated in this division on the season! Sarrah D. Palmer was the Overall Reserve National Champion, as the headliner of the “Fearsome Foursome” from O.A.T.S. of Clarkston, Michigan. She had a big kiss for her horse and a big high five for her instructor. The Physically Challenged National Champion was Tonya Jonwantangool. Sean Simpson was the Non-Physically Challenged National Champion from the Stirrups N Strides Therapeutic Riding Center of Citra, Florida. Sena Bowling directed the Non-Physically Challenged Reserve National Champion, Aidan Silverton. Aidan got a big cheer from his crowd, pumping his fist like a champ and waving to his cheering section.

With a hard act to follow, the Amateur Three-Gaited National Championship saw a three-peat for the grand CH With Style And Grace and the equally grand Tara Grom. These two ladies have fit together perfectly since teaming together in 2010. They are now three for three in this class and have captured five Louisville wins together. A true team, this DeLovely directed product knows each other incredibly well. Tara provides a steadying force for the ever-game mare, and Gracie provides a perfect challenge for the driven Tara. Receiving a nice round of applause was the Reserve National Champion, Ribbons And Reins. Stacey Kipper earned her second reserve win of the day on this storybook week, putting in maybe her best performance yet aboard this exquisite daughter of Periaptor and a Sultan’s Starmaker mare. Carter Cox directs this team that just continues to grow together.

Faydelle Schott completed her dream season with CH Heartland Fortune Maker, as the 85-years-young Miss Faydelle put her unbelievably sweet smile on display as the Amateur Hackney Pony National Champion. It was a unanimous decision in this remarkably competitive field of four, with Bob Phillips directing their round of honor, just as he had in Freedom Hall for their Amateur World’s Championship wins. Qualifier winner CH Heartland Rough And Ready was the Reserve National Champion with owner Toni Nastali driving for the Majestic Oaks team. Last year’s National Champion took 10 victory passes on this season. The three-time World’s Champion is by Heartland Victory and out of a Dun-Haven Bandolier mare.

Robert Gardiner’s move to Missouri has been a great one. He continued his excellent week with the Tom Bass Memorial Mo/Kan Five-Gaited Championship aboard Callaway’s Blaire. Winner of the Five-Gaited Jackpot at Boone County Fair, Blaire is by Callaway’s Main Man and out of Callaway’s Someone Special, by Callaway’s Blue Norther. She is owned by High Spirits Farm. The always popular Ylang Ylang was the Reserve Champion with the always popular Mandy Martin up for Ever Glades Farm. The big bay mare is by Forty-Second Street ERB and out of Galafragilistic, dam of CH Ya-Ya and CH Conway.

The Saddle Seat Equitation National Championship, previously the American Royal Equitation Championship, is similar to a National Final, with the age group qualifiers held during this morning’s session and riders from those age groups coming back for the championship round tonight. Last night’s UPHA Senior Challenge Cup Reserve National Champion claimed this National title, as Taylor Newton knocked her pattern out of the park aboard CH-EQ A Sweet Sensation. Winner of the 16-17 qualifier this afternoon, Taylor is trained by Shelley Fisher. Emily Chapman was thrilled with her Reserve National Championship, as she got the call to show Zagnut today. Also reserve in the 16-17 class, Emily and Zagnut looked like they had been together for a lifetime, working in perfect time. Zagnut, who makes his home at Autumn Hills Farm, looks to be an up-and-coming equitation mount. Emily is trained by Zubrod Stables. Gavin Gagnon grabbed the yellow prize, followed by Brooke Boyer in fourth.

With a World’s and Reserve World’s Championship under their belt at Louisville this year, the rest had to be just frosting for Meredithe Steinhauer and CH Thunderation. After two more wins at Mid-America Mane Event, this wound up bay speedster swept both Amateur Road Pony classes here at the Royal to earn a National Championship, their first together, as they were reserve twice here a year ago. They are trained by Majestic Oaks. Heartland Curtain Call picked up the second half of the Majestic Oaks winning duo, as it was a Reserve National Championship drive for Lindsay Jones. These two have seven reserve wins together on the year, including two this week. They have been a team since 2008, winning a Reserve World’s Championship just a year ago, their final year in the junior exhibitor ranks. The next two were also bred by Heartland Hackney Farm. These were Heartland Resplendent with Amy Roberts and Heartland Showin’ Off with Jayne Romano.

While the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Stake got off to a choppy start, it certainly finished strong. Ellyn Dorsey scored a unanimous win tonight as the Amateur Park Champion for Strickland Stables. This was their seventh win together this season and their fourth in a row. A son of Undulata’s Nutcracker and out of Eyee Gadzooks, by Periaptor, Nuttin’ Doing has an impeccable headset and really marches down the rail in that perfect cadence that Lisa Strickland perfects so well. Laura Hundley Ritts saved her best ride for the last one of the season, claiming the reserve title aboard In High Cotton. Trained by Bill and Lisa Waller, In High Cotton is a flashy chestnut gelding. He is by F.M. Cavalier, a Hide-A-Way’s Wild Country son. They were winners earlier this year at the competitive Chattanooga/Cleveland Charity.

The 13-and-Under Five-Gaited division has fast become one of the most competitive at the horse show. The top two have traded shots these past two shows, with CH Callaway’s Born For This coming out on top both times this week. She and Catherine Wheeler were the 13-and-Under Five-Gaited National Champions tonight, directed by Mercer Springs for Ceil and Kenny Wheeler. They took both of their classes here a year ago as well. The bright and fixy Ashlyn’s Voodoo Charm was the Reserve National Champion with Eleanor Rainbolt Forbes up for the Rainbow Princess Farms and DeLovely. Twice winners of World’s Championship titles this year in Freedom Hall, Eleanor and Voodoo Charm have been a formidable new team in this division for 2012. One who should be all smiles is Olivia Schumacher, who showed CH Heirrison Ford to third place honors for Kierson Farm. Another product of the Kierson Farm Riding Program, Olivia was the highest placing rider in this class who will still be in 13-and-Under come next season.

Judy McNeish has long been a road horse enthusiast, becoming the first lady driver to win the Roadster to Wagon World’s Championship in 2009 with the great Invincible Summer. She made a solo drive tonight for the Roadster to Wagon tri-color at the lines of Last Call, the reigning Amateur Roadster to Wagon World’s Champion. This was Judy’s first tricolor round of honor at the American Royal since 2007, when she won this same class with Invincible Summer and the Amateur Roadster to Bike Championship with Thunderbolt. Since then, she has had great success at a different “Royal,” the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.

The ASHA Junior Exhibitor Pleasure Driving Challenge tricolor went back to Hollow Haven, pinned to First Class Heir. Driving skill runs strong on the bottom line of Brianna Meyer, as her mother, Linda Meyer, filled in once at the lines of the great Callaway’s Pretty Penny to win two classes at Tanbark. Grandma Nancy Anderson is of course one of the winningest drivers of all time, taking a plethora of Louisville victory passes with that very same grand mare. First Class Heir has been a star in this division, winning all three of his classes in 2012. He was formerly Brianna’s partner in Junior Exhibitor Park. Lynda Freseth had a high five over the rail for Nancy Anderson as she waited for Brianna to make her way to the winner’s circle. Reserve in their last three classes, World Turning and Rose Marie Wheeler were reserve once again for Carroll Robertson Ray. The young daughter of The Mac Attack and Starheart’s Whisper was twice reserve in Freedom Hall this year. This team has three wins on the year, to go with two wins for World Turning and Rose Marie’s mom, Linda Fischer. Major Buck and Audrey Lowry finished third for Kathryne Stief with a great drive, followed by The Majestic Lady and Avis Van Zomeren.

An up-and-coming star, My Rosalita put together a stellar show to win the Junior Five-Gaited class with Kenny Smith. The unanimous winner is owned by Barbara Goodman Manilow. Donna Smith joined Kenny in the winner’s circle, decked out as always, this time complete with hot pink leather gloves. My Rosalita is a bright chestnut daughter of Northern Vegas, who has produced a lot of stars over the past few years. She is out of Careless Heiress, by Supreme Heir. Her second dam, however, is where it gets serious. There we find Sweet Illusion W.F., the producer of CH Heir Style, CH An Heir About Her, and CH Sultry Heiress. Sweet Illusion is more than qualified for the Broodmare Hall of Fame, though she does not yet carry the “BHF” tag in the American Saddlebred Registry. Jacqueline Beck made a good ride against the professionals to finish reserve aboard Guy Ormsby. From Visser Stables, this one is owned by the Williams Family Trust. Guy Ormsby is by another top producer of young stars, Callaway’s Guy Park. The bold-moving chestnut gelding is out of Penelope Cruz, also the dam of World’s Champion The Plaza. Robert Gardiner picked up the yellow ribbon with a top ride on I’m All Dressed Up for Kathie Constable.

The Amateur Harness Pony National Championship saw one of the very best ladies you could ever meet win at the lines of CH Crystal Creek’s Commander. This is Sandra Surber, who when not picking grapes and crafting wines at her and husband Ted’s vineyard in Calistoga, California, is a top driver. The Amateur Ladies Reserve World’s Champions this year, Sandra and Commander were wonderful tonight to claim Commander’s second straight National Championship. Pretty Impressive and Diana Vonderheide more than held their own to take an impressive Reserve National Championship prize back to Strickland Stables. Susan Ellis owns this one, who is by Impress My Daddy and out of a Dun-Haven Bandolier mare.

Tara Grom and CH Perfect Vengeance made their ninth victory pass of the year, winning the Adult Show Pleasure National Championship for Bob and Kim Grom and DeLovely Farm. The World’s Champion of Champions has had an incredible first year as a pleasure horse. The 10-year-old dark chestnut gelding is by Pat Shriver and out of I Won’t Dance, by Starheart Criterion. “Ace” has always shown with the Grom family, starting out with sister Kaitlyn and transitioning to Tara in 2007. Both young ladies have had huge success with this star performer. Three Point Shooter certainly likes this ring, having won as a three-year-old and a four-year-old here. In his first year as an aged horse, he won the 39-and-Over qualifier and came back tonight to earn the Reserve National Championship with Susan Creekmore. The Undulata’s Nutcracker x Kalarama’s New Sensation cross is owned by Thomas R. Brock Jr. and trained by Hollow Haven Farm. Lexington Champion Stocco was third with Amanda Murchison, followed by Shagadelic and Jennifer Halverson in fourth.

Another in a long line of incredible stars from the incomparable mare, A Daydream Believer, HS Decorum was the Junior Three-Gaited winner as the unanimous choice of the judges. By Sir William Robert, Decorum was shown once again by Lionel Ferreira for Pidgeon Roost Farm. A winner at Lexington, Decorum would go on to claim the ASR Four-Year-Old Sweepstakes and the Junior Three-Gaited World’s Championship in Freedom Hall. This is exactly the kind of exquisitely beautiful walk-trot that Phillipa Sledge has been known for. A Reserve World’s Champion in the Junior Over 2, Callaway’s Reality Show was reserve here as well with Mark Hulse up for James Orr. Sired by the Callaway Hills star sire, Callaway’s The Gipper, Reality Show is out of Callaway’s I’m A Lady Too, by Show Me Too. They got a nice round of applause on the way out, as this is one to watch in the coming years.

Thunderbolt has been on an absolute tear with William Shatner, winning their third straight class tonight, the Amateur Roadster to Bike National Championship. The reigning World’s Champion of Champions has been a star of the DeLovely string since 2006. A year later, he was the USTA Roadster to Bike Classic World’s Champion with Raymond Shively at the lines. Since then, Judy McNeish has shown him with great success, and now Bill Shatner is at the lines, putting on some scintillating shows. The ever-popular Iamnotacow was the Reserve National Champion with Debra Clark driving under the direction of Jon Walker. They finished reserve in this one a year ago as well. Iamnotacow has taken 11 victory passes on the season, coming off last year’s Amateur Ladies World’s Championship.

There were 10 entries in the final UPHA Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship, as this wonderful program draws to a close, having run its course and raised some $300,000 for breast cancer awareness and research. The UPHA will unveil its next project at the National Convention in Las Vegas at the Thursday night party at Pure Nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, the host hotel. This will be the UPHA Iron Will Program, which will take their efforts to the next level. It was bittersweet then to see this final event, the sixth of its kind. These lady riders made it a worthy final chapter, as they rode for all they were worth to claim the National Championship. As is tradition, the class was tied in reverse order, with tenth going to Admiral Able and Christine Johnson and ninth going to Hello Beautiful and Jonelle Chovanec. Eighth in the class was Mosette, with Katie Coup, followed in seventh by It’s Wing Ka Hammer and Chris Shaw Tresten. Lauren Greenwald made a good ride on Thunder Crackin’ for sixth, with Worthy’s World To Know and Careen DuBuc Cardin in fifth.

The fourth award went to the only horse to show in all six of these Pink Ribbon National Championships, CH Callaway’s Born To Win. Gayle Lampe has shown him in all six of these classes under the direction of Mike Roberts Stable. Winner of the first four editions of this event, Born To Win is now 19 years of age. His career with Gayle has been straight out of a storybook, and they have a bond that is simply fun to watch. The third award went to Ladies Five-Gaited Mare winner Divine Asset, with Jacqueline Beck making a strong ride for the Williams Family Trust and Visser Stables.

Two remained in the ring at the far end, as Liz Shatner and Ceil Wheeler milled about, waiting for that final number to be called. Both of these horses have good stories behind them, as Liz is in her first year showing Belle Reve’s So Photogenic, while Ceil Wheeler is on her reunion tour with the great CH Walterway’s Remember Me. It would be a fairytale ending for Ceil and Remember Me, as it was Elizabeth Shatner’s number called out as the Reserve National Champion with Belle Reve’s So Photogenic. Owned by Belle Reve and trained by Grey Ridge, So Photogenic is by Buck’s Co-Star and out of CH Take My Picture. While not bred by the Shatners, So Photogenic’s dam is well known to Bill, as he used to show the two-time World’s Champion in Amateur Five-Gaited competition.

Just one was left in the ring, as Ceil Wheeler and the remarkable CH Walterway’s Remember Me returned to glory together, now directed by Mercer Springs Farm. It was almost exactly 10 years ago that Nelson Green rode this beautiful silver-tailed gelding to the UPHA Five-Gaited Classic National Championship. His career since then has bordered on legendary, winning four straight Ladies Five-Gaited World’s Championships from 2005 to 2008. Remember Me was sold after that final Ladies World’s Championship, but the Wheelers had seller’s remorse, buying him back in March of 2011 to retire him. The problem was, the grand champion didn’t want any part of retirement. So the Wheelers asked Smith Lilly to put him back to work. They won their first four classes together last season. Sidelined by a bone bruise earlier this year, Remember Me came out at ASHAV this year to win the Ladies Five-Gaited class there, his first time showing with Ceil since that 2008 World’s Championship round of honor. After their reserve finish in the qualifier here, they came back tonight all kinds of cranked up and ready. They were the unanimous winners tonight. “Nothing like an old horse to make you cry,” said Kenny Wheeler. “It’s like a fairytale; dreams do come true.”

That’s why we do this year after year. For moments like that. 

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