North Carolina Sweeps World’s Grand Championships; Four-peats for Walterway’s Remember Me, Big Red
RELEASE: August 25, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Stacey Meier
Content provided by Jessica Fisher, American Saddlebred Horse Association
Louisville, Kentucky - Saturday night in Freedom Hall at the Kentucky State Fair and World's Championship Horse Show was one of those performances that demonstrated once again the unpredictability of sport. It was a mix of the familiar, the new and the unexpected, cast against a backdrop of 12,000 cheering fans—just when the cynics are saying the results are knowable before the competition takes place (as in the racing pundits ignoring every horse besides Big Brown in the Belmont Stakes this year!), the horses and their connections prove there’s just no controlling Mother Nature and her unknowable equine caprices.
In the world of horses, four wins is a big number! That two horses in the same, most prestigious of championship nights could both score four-peats, one an American Saddlebred and one a Standardbred, is beyond all odds. But it happened.
First, in a class of nine stellar five-gaited ladies’ horses, CH Walterway’s Remember Me and Ceil Wheeler of Virginia emerged on top yet again, for the fourth straight year. Just think of it—four different sets of competitors, four different sets of judges and four different sets of circumstances, not to mention horse and rider each aging four years in the process—just how remarkable this is begins to set in. Remember Me has been a top performer since the year he was foaled, one of those winners in hand, with the mental toughness and physical ability (not to mention superlative training over the years by Nelson Green and John Conatser) to go to the top in high performance competition later on. One would have to agree he’s the quintessential ladies’ horse of his era, the one the rules describe perfectly!
And what words are there to describe Big Red and Raymond Shively? This pair are like that watch you’ve heard about - except these fine jewels of a Roadster and his trainer just keep on trotting and ticking . . . and also keep on licking every opponent in sight.
In the three World’s Grand Championships, the opposite scenarios played out. Two of the three included defending champions back for more; yet all three ended with the crowning of new horses at the top of their world.
The Fine Harness horses traditionally appear first, and the audience sensed an upset from the moment the gate opened and top horse after top horse, eight in all, some familiar and some not-so, marched in with all those great harness trots and just lit up the crowd. The aptly named Mother Mary (Revival x Mother Superior), another of those graduates from the American Saddlebred Registry Futurity Prize Program, had begun knocking at the door in this section, driven expertly by a smiling, lovely and determined Sandy Lilly, a Fine Harness picture the way it’s supposed to look, and to the roar of the audience this night the door opened and that blanket of white roses just added to the delight. In a sense, given that the contention ran so deep, it was hard to imagine all three judges could see it the same way, without a workout, which is a tribute to this mare’s correctness in harness for her new owners Anita and Richard Simpson, not to mention the wisdom of their purchase.
In the Three-Gaited Grand Championship, another new champion was pinned. Seven trotted onto the green shavings, with five men competing against two ladies. Guess which gender was champion and reserve? The winner, Mary Jane Marcum Orr on CH Our Charming Lady, even brought her own cheering section, complete with flash cards so as to leave no doubt as to their favorite! And was this lady determined - she was a ring general, and her lovely bay mare waved her legs as directed - and then delivered a great, fist-pumping honor round with the yellow flowers, complete with shout-outs to her supporters in the stands.
In the final World’s Grand Championship, 11 Five-Gaited horses answered the call in what pro