September 1, 2007

The World's Grand Champion saddlebred horses were crowned last weekend before a crowd of nearly 15,000 at Louisville's Freedom Hall for the World's Championship Horse Show.

A South African-bred horse ridden by a Californian claimed the $100,000 "Big Stake" as Michele Macfarlane won the Five-Gaited title aboard (SA) CCV Casey's Final Countdown, co-owned by Si-Si Stables and Macfarlane. Grande Gil grabbed the Three-Gaited championship with Neil Visser in the irons for owner Joan Hamilton. George Knight showed Along Came A Spider to the Fine Harness World's Grand Championship for owner Georgia Herpin Baker.

Macfarlane's win was historic. She is now one of only two living riders to have won the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship three times with three different horses. Countdown is an 11-year-old stallion who, in just three years, has 33 wins in 40 starts, only finishing out of the top three twice.

Visser guided Grande Gil to the Three-Gaited Championship at the Lexington Junior League Horse Show. Now, coming off the win at Louisville, Grande Gil is the only one of the three grand champions with a shot at the Triple Crown (Lexington Jr. League, World's Championship Horse Show and American Royal). Hamilton's horse will head to the American Royal in Kansas City in November with a chance to be the first Three-Gaited Triple Crown winner since An Heir About Her in 2004.

It's been a long time coming for Along Came A Spider. After three consecutive reserves in the grand championship to record-breaking, six-time winner CHCallaway's Copyright, the blanket of white roses finally went to Spider, a mare Baker has owned and Knight has trained her entire show career.