Merrill Murray and Courageous Lord Earn 3rd Five-Gaited World Grand Champ

Its an annual tradition in Louisville. Champions are crowned, history is made, dreams come true, and sterling silver trophies glisten under the lights ofIts an annual tradition in Louisville. Champions are crowned, history is made, dreams come true, and sterling silver trophies glisten under the lights of

Story originally posted by: by Stephanie Doyle for USEF

Louisville, KY — Its an annual tradition in Louisville. Champions are crowned, history is made, dreams come true, and sterling silver trophies glisten under the lights of Freedom Hall. American Saddlebred Horses, Roadster Horses and Hackney and Harness Ponies compete to be called a Worlds Champion, a Worlds Champion of Champion, or the most desired title: a Worlds Grand Champion.

On Saturday, it was a three-peat triumph for rider/trainer Merrill Murray, who celebrated his third and final $100,000 Five-Gaited Worlds Grand Championship victory atop the American Saddlebred gelding Courageous Lord.

The crowd cheered, clapped and whistled on Stake Night the final night of the weeklong event for Courageous Lord, clearly the fan favorite. After a crowd rousing victory pass, Murray thanked God, and his wife, blacksmith, chiropractor, vet, the former owners, his assistant, and fans of Courageous Lord. And mentioned the ride was no longer his.

The 10-year-old chestnut, trained by Murray, was sold to Peter and Lynn Via of Fox Grape Farms about a month ago. Murray announced after his grand performance, which included a work out, the ride now belongs to Dr. Owen Weaver.

To add to the excitement on Saturday night, Real Action, ridden/trained by Peter Cowart, won the Three-Gaited Grand Championship, and Bret Day won the Fine Harness Championship title with Wild Carrissima. For the second year in a row, Emerson, driven by Raymond Shively, topped the Roadster to Bike Worlds Grand Championship; and three Hackney Worlds Grand Championships were respectively won by: Nabucco (Hackney) driven by Gib Marcucci; Giselle (Hackney Harness) driven by Larry Ella; and Regals Lightening Strike LF (Roadster) driven by Joshua Greer.

Attendance was strong for the 108th Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Horse Show and many who couldnt be there in person watched on computers via USEFNetwork.coms livestream. This is the first year the webcast has been offered courtesy of the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA).

The event is highest paying United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) competition paying in excess of $1 million in prize money. The first show was in 1902 with the title of Worlds Champion being designated in 1914.

To watch Merrill Murrays ride and all of Fridays competition and view photos and results from the entire week, please visit USEFNetwork.coms Worlds Championship Horse Show page at: http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/WCHS2011.