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UPHA/American Royal - Wednesday Night

It’s not often you can sell a gaited superstar within your barn, but John and Tammie Conatser certainly got it done with The Daily Lottery. A year ago, Daily Lottery was winning the Junior Five-Gaited class here with Mandy Martin, fresh off their ASR 4-Year-Old Sweepstakes win and their Junior World’s Championships. Coming into this season, he was teamed up with Carol Hillenbrand under the Carriage Lane banner. After a successful run through the year, he was sold to the Deknatels’ High Hickory Farm, another Carriage Lane customer. Now matched with Gabe Deknatel, they were ready to make their team debut at the American Royal. Before the class, Gabe was filled with nervous excitement, knowing the horse he had underneath him and wanting to give him the ride he deserved. He most certainly did. He hit the ring like a house afire and never looked back. Gabe described his mount as one of the gamest and most physically demanding horses he has ever thrown a leg over. This will be a tough combination to handle in the Amateur ranks, and the Amateur Gentlemen’s classes next year just got even more competitive. What a clash that will be if all of the current team’s remain together!

This Amateur Five-Gaited class itself was unbelievably big and deep. Fresh off their wins at Kentucky Fall Classic, Callaway’s Carnival In Rio and Sally McClure Jackson put together possibly their best performance together to earn reserve here under the direction of Melissa Moore. They have progressed nicely all throughout the season, with this performance being a great way to kick off a season-capping week. Also making one of their best performances to date were CH Colonel Hoss and Harold Denton Jr. Under the direction of Clark Clouse, this team is starting to click on all cylinders. They finished third here. Busting Out and Dr. Owen Weaver were fourth for Fox Grape Farms, while Shame On You and Maguire Hall were fifth. Hey Joe and Cydni Simmons were sixth for Burlington Saddlebreds, while Battle’s Radar and Rick Daigle were seventh. New York’s Real Magic and Misdee Wrigley rounded out the ribbon winners in this supremely talented class.

The night started out on a high note as well, as the Ladies Fine Harness class featured a unanimous victory by the three-time defending Ladies World’s Champion of Champions, Lady Vol. Trained by Zach Duffy at Mike Roberts Stable, Chris Kaplan was the driver once again for Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Inc. Sally McClure Jackson had the reserve winner in this one as well, driving to the red with Hi On Heir, also directed by Melissa Moore.

From lilting and elegant to fast and furious, the Amateur Roadster to Bike entries came roaring into Kemper Arena. Sporting the silver and black of Lukens Stables, Charlie Jones was back at it again, taking this blue ribbon home for the second year in a row with Mr’s Bones. The consistency of their brilliance is astounding. They are always at the top of their game, and there isn’t another soul in the horse show world who has more fun doing what they love to do than Charlie Jones. Misdee Wrigley Miller donned the silks and felt the need for speed with Trio Bolero G, the Roadster to Bike Stallion/Gelding World’s Champion. They finished up in reserve in their debut performance under the Kalarama banner.

It was back to back trips to the winner’s circle for Lukens Stables, as Jayne Romano and Free Willy took the last pass in the Amateur Road Pony class. How these two classes got placed back to back in the schedule is anybody’s guess, but they did schedule a ring drag in between to give a little turnaround time in between. Free Willy looked ready for more as he took his trip down victory lane tonight. Winner of this class just a year ago, Calvin Hobbs was reserve with Kevin Ingram driving for James R. Dellinger Jr. Directed by Hollow Haven, they were the Reserve World’s Champion of Champions this year.

Chris Reiser took over the reins of son Dakota’s usual mount, Santana’s Gypsy Gal, to win the Park Pleasure class. Dakota was a winner here last year in his split of the 14-and-Under Three-Gaited Show Pleasure qualifier. By Gypsy Santana, Gypsy Gal is out of Champagne Gal, by Champagne Fizz. Ladies Five-Gaited Mare winner here last year, Celtic Lass was reserve in this one with Lisa Strickland. This nine-year-old chestnut mare is by Prize Contender. Kenny Smith and The New York Look were third for Barbara Goodman Manilow, while CH Shady Creek’s Genius and Max Ciampoli were fourth for Bullet Concrete Material, Inc.

Two-time defending Three-Gaited 15.2-and-Under World’s Champion VHF Belle Epoque moved up a place from her finish in the Under 2 qualifier here a year ago to take the blue. Robert Gardiner owns and rides this park-trotting machine. "Sweet Pea" has been consistent and bright all throughout the year, making another standout show tonight. The Park Stallion/Gelding Reserve World’s Champion got a haircut. Tom Lewis was up for reserve with Jim Lowry aboard for Jane Deske and Jack Boos.

An absolute knockout group of pleasure horses came to Kemper for the 39-and-Over Three-Gaited Show Pleasure class. There would be no denying the reigning World’s Champion of Champions tonight, as CH Tax Man added another blue ribbon to the Kalarama banner with Peggy Councilman up. This was their first trip back to the show ring since their emotional and successful week in Freedom Hall. Big, bold and beautiful, Tax Man was a sight to behold. Putting together one of their best rides, My Stiletto and Janet Sterba were reserve here. Owned by daughter Katy Sterba, Janet has taken over the reins this year, as Katy is on a two-year stint with the Peace Corps in Senegal, Africa. The Muffin Man and Kim Langdon were third, while Sapphire On Ice and Katherine Meints rounded out the top four.

It was a showdown between the World’s Grand Champion and the Amateur World’s Champion of Champions in the Fine Harness Stallion/Gelding class. Castledream has enjoyed his time spent in Kemper Arena. In 2005, he won the UPHA Fine Harness Classic National Championship with Todd Graham. The next year he was back to win the Junior Fine Harness class, now under the ownership of Misdee Wrigley Miller and shown by Larry Hodge. In 2007, Misdee was at the lines, winning the Amateur qualifier and then coming back to win the Fine Harness National Championship. Last year it was two Open wins, as Misdee drove him to this blue ribbon as well as another Fine Harness National Championship. Larry Hodge was at the lines tonight, just as he was on Stake Night in Freedom Hall, taking the last pass for Hillcroft Farm. Lace’s Last Tango set the harness world on fire in August, coming in to take the Amateur Ladies World’s Championship and coming back to win the Amateur World’s Championship as well. Owner Priscilla Marconi was at the whip on those nights. Tonight, it was Jim Lowry driving the Tri-Color Ventures entry to reserve as Marconi was ill with the flu and could not attend.

Two appropriately named horses went one-two in the Amateur Hackney Pony class. Heartland Undeniable was just that with Kate Frieberg driving for Reedannland. Her dad, Dr. Alan R. Raun, joined her in the winner’s circle and for the round of honor. A longtail last year, Undeniable was the Junior Harness Pony Reserve World’s Champion of Champions in 2008. Seamair Simply Awesome was also just that, as he picked up the red ribbon with John Wrather for Charlotte Wrather. Directed by Janet Crampton, Simply Awesome had won his previous 22 trips into the show ring, including the last two Amateur Hackney Pony World’s Championships. Third in this loaded class was Front Page News with Larry Schultz. Receiving a nice ovation from the crowd in fourth, reserve world’s grand champion Heartland Fortune Maker and Faydelle Schott had a great go under the direction of Bob Phillips.

Showing well at their hometown show, the Ever Glades Farm entry, Cara Clara and Marjorie Townsend, topped the Missouri-Kansas Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited class. Teamed since 2005, they just continue to impress. Cara Clara is by CH Caramac and out of Clari Phi, by Phi Slama Jama. Reserve in this class last year as well, Heir’s Sugar N Spice WRF earned the red ribbon again with Rachel Kufeldt for Carol and Gary Mandernach. They were the winners of this event in 2007 and were reserve again in 2006.

Looking like a golden giant, Kent Brockman earned the Ladies Three-Gaited Over 15.2 blue with Bridget McNeese, though for him it might better be called the Well Over 15.2 division. Body-clipped to a golden sheen with a wide white stripe, this entry of Catherine Carter McNeese was rocked way back in the bridle and strutting for the win. He is directed by Grey Ridge Farm. Always a crowd pleaser with his big and impressive way of going, Conway was reserve with Sara McDonald aboard. By Set In Motion and out of Galafragilistic, Conway is a dark chestnut with just a small white star. He made a great show tonight for second. Stonecroft Nightlight and Fay Lowry were third for Karrie Graham and Dwaine Kinderknecht, while Gossip Girl and Dr. Meg Knowles rounded out the top four.

The Amateur Roadster to Wagon Reserve World’s Champion made a solo performance to win the Open Roadster to Wagon class. This was Go For Broke with Michael Bacon driving for Brad Bacon. They went for the doctor in this one, kicking up dirt as they slid their corners in an exciting exhibition.

Two classes remained after The Daily Lottery and Gabe Deknatel made their debut, first of which was the Amateur Harness Pony qualifier. Oliver Twist is a longtime star of the Hackney Pony breed. He has shown as a cobtail, a pleasure pony, and now this year as a longtail. Charlotte Wrather teamed him to the longtail blue tonight under the direction of Janet Crampton. Just a four-year-old, Estoban has plenty of upside to him. Fresh off a Harness Pony Championship at St. Louis, he and Anna Marie Knipp were reserve here for High Spirits Farm. By Mr. Amigo, he is out of Beyond Imagination, by Grand Impression.

The quest for the final jewel of the Saddlebred Triple Crown got underway tonight, as Courageous Lord and Merrill Murray came to play in the Five-Gaited Gelding qualifier. They scored a unanimous victory to cap off the Wednesday night session. Wednesdays and Saturdays worked out quite well for this power-packed ball of muscle and excitement in August, so the ownership team of Bill Carrington and Marsha Shepard hope that success carries over into November as well. It shapes up to be one heck of a Five-Gaited Championship if everyone shows back. The World’s Grand Champion will have to be at the very top of his game once again, and Merrill Murray is just the man to have him there. Junior Five-Gaited Reserve Champion here last year, Fox Grape’s Dauntless was reserve with Lonnie Quarles showing for Fox Grape Farms. Everything Quarles does with a horse, he makes look easy. Dauntless got the crowd going in this one as he rode up for the red ribbon. By the Fox Grape stallion, Dorian Wild Temper, Dauntless is out of the great World’s Grand Champion CH Garland’s Dream. Smooth as silk, he sailed around the ring tonight. As Martin Cockriel came up to get his ribbon with High On Champagne, announcer Peter Fenton honored the 83-year-old showman for his 60 years of showing at the American Royal. A true gentleman, Cockriel is always quick with a smile and a kind word. He is one of the great ones, and man does he love to put on a show!.

What a Saturday night that will be if all of the top placers return for the final dance of the year. We would be looking at the World’s Grand Champion Courageous Lord, along with Fox Grape’s Dauntless, mare winner Our Sweet Addison, Callaway’s Karla, stud winner It’s Double O’ Deuce, Callaway’s Bluesman, Callaway’s Champ Clark, and the list just goes on and on. At the very least it will be interesting to watch the in-gate to see who comes through it. We’ll keep you posted.

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