The most exciting five-gaited stake I have seen in a long while took place the other day at San Antonio's Charity Horse Show, the event that inaugurated the newly enlarged Southwest circuit. Although there were seven horses in the championship, it was really a contest between Mr. and Mrs. Lafayette Ward's Gallant Man, with Art Simmons aboard, and Barlite Farm's The New Look, with Lee Shipman in the saddle. Both are 5-year-old chestnut geldings with great speed at the trot and rack, and both riders are experts at keeping a horse in high gear.
When the pair was sent to the rail for a workout, the duel reached its climax. Shipman moved first and Simmons slipped in just behind him. This did not fit the strategy Shipman had in mind, however. Quickly circling, he moved back behind Simmons so that when the judge called for a trot, The New Look breezed by Gallant Man at the middle of the straightaway. Despite some artful corner-cutting by Simmons, Gallant Man was unable to overtake the fast-moving son of Wing Commander. The San Antonio audience, always enthusiastic, was now close to frenzy, and the most demonstrative spectator was The New Look's owner, Mrs. Thurman Barret, who was war-whooping in a way to cow an Apache. But her horse was plainly something to shout about, and as the workout continued it became apparent that Gallant Man was wilting while The New Look still seemed fresh and strong. "Art's been outmaneuvered, outrode and outhorsed," commented one spectator just as Simmons' horse went off its feet. Judge Charles Smith thought so too. The New Look became the five-gaited champion, and he circled the ring to the accompaniment of a screaming ovation.
Although the general level of the show was not as remarkable, San Antonio can be proud of it. In its third year, the aura of quality was already apparent. Some polish is lacking in details, but no more so than at many shows that have been in business much longer. However, an unpardonable lack of polish was evident on the boots and in the tack of many of the local exhibitors. The well-turned-out lady or junior rider was the exception rather than the rule.
Although Art Simmons took second in the gaited stake, the rest was all roses. He won the walk-trot stake with the Wards' Miss Lori and the fine harness stake with Horace Cabe's Tashi Ling.
The Fort Sam Houston Show, a two-day event that preceded the San Antonio show, was for hunters and jumpers only. Most of the 200 horses entered moved on to the bigger, multidivision show at the Coliseum. If Ian Fleming's shade had been drifting through San Antonio at the time, it would have met P. Galore, Goldfinger and 007. P. Galore is a bay mare who was the green jumper champion at Fort Sam, Gold-finger is a hunter who was in the ribbons at both shows and 007 is another hunter who, sad to relate, was badly out-SMERSHed. All are owned by Lieut. Col. John Russell, onetime international rider for the U.S. and former chief of the U.S. Modern Pentathlon Team. In case there is any doubt about the direction of his cinema interests, he had another jumper named Dr. Strangelove. This chestnut gelding, bought off the track, shows promise of being as versatile as Peter Sellers. After only three shows he was the reserve champion on both the green and open jumper divisions.
Encouragingly, the most heavily entered classes at both shows were the junior working hunter events. With so many young enthusiasts in the vicinity, San Antonio should have no worries over the future of its horse shows.