For the first time
in the history of the Celebration, a horse and rider team which had
won in the amateur division came back in the Grand Championship
Walking Horse Stake to win the title, the tri-colored championship
ribbon, the silver and the glory. Major Wilson with owner,
Claude Brown, up had won the event for amateur-owned and exhibited
walking stallions on Tuesday night as a preliminary prior to the stake
Sire of Major Wilson was Midnight Major. His dam, Lady Fly, traced
back to Giovanni blood. Owned by Claude Brown, a long-time
breeder, dealer and exhibitor of Tennessee Walking Horses from
Morehead, Kentucky, Major Wilson was bred, foaled, raised and trained
at the Claude Brown Stables there. Major Wilson was not
shown during the entire 1961 season prior to the Celebration but
instead was carefully groomed and especially trained with only one
thought in mind-having the horse at his peak during Celebration week.
That such a regimen was successfully calculated is evident, not only
by the decision of the judges, but also by the acclaim of the
thousands of spectators who witnessed the competition. The
choice of Major Wilson was one of the most popular Grand Championship
awards ever made at the Celebration. The tremendous
ovation given the winning pair as they circled the ring immediately
after Vice President L. B. Johnson had placed the floral horseshoe on
the champion's gleaming neck indicated the crowd's appreciation of a
magnificent and true-going Tennessee Walking Horse that stayed "right"
through one of the longest and hardest stake classes of all times.
Claude Brown and
Major Wilson showed as a team exclusively in the amateur division at
the 1960 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and successfully
defeated a strong field of amateur mounts and riders that year to be
crowned 1960 Amateur Champions. Major Wilson has had a
strong following of fans since he began his show ring career and had
been among the top winners at the Celebration in prior years.
In 1957 he finished fifth in the Grand Championship Walking Horse
Stake. He was third there in 1958 and sixth in 1959.
following the 1961 Celebration Horse Show, owner Claude Brown
announced that he was retiring Major Wilson from the show ring except
Major Wilson was
heralded as the greatest amateur-trained and exhibited Tennessee
Walking Horse ever exhibited at the Celebration.
This win by Claude Brown was only the second time in history that an
amateur owner-rider was winner of the big stake. Colonel
J. L. Haynes was the only other previous amateur winner showing Haynes
Peacock in 1940 and 1941. Colonel Jack exhibited only in
the open preliminary classes however, for, in those days, the
Celebration had no events for amateurs.
Major Wilson established another Celebration "first" by being the
oldest stallion to ever win the Celebration's Grand Championship. He
was a nine-year-old at the time.
Claude Brown was the
second amateur to win the Celebration's big stake. Major Wilson
qualified for the big stake by winning the amateur-owner stallion
event on the previous Tuesday.