Long trip ends with blue ribbon for Marple

July 29, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - He came a long way to spend a short time in the ring, but the smile on Bill Marple's face made it obvious that it was worth the trip.

Marple couldn't hide his delight after winning the first five-gaited class at the Mercer County Fair & Horse Show Wednesday night.

He had made the trip from Dallas to show his horse against the best competition he could find - perhaps only once - hoping that everything would come together in the ring. Then he made his way back to Texas today. But he got the payoff he was hoping for as his horse, Great Day Rising, won first place in the amateur five-gaited class on the opening night of the four-night show.

"We got a little bit lucky," Marple said. "There were some good horses out there."

Marple's horse had to work hard for his blue ribbon in the amateur five-gaited class. He worked himself into a lather in the ring and was clearly tired as he was led back to the barn after the class.


Marple said that like a top athlete, Great Day Rising "left it all in the ring.

"He got a little focused on the carnival before the class, and he had to work a little harder," Marple said.

His horse may work again Saturday night

The horse may work again in Saturday night's amateur five-gaited championship, depending on the evaluation of his trainer, Mike McIntosh of Westfield, Ind., and perhaps on Saturday's weather forecast.

Marple said he'll return to Harrodsburg for the Saturday night class if he and McIntosh decide to enter the horse, but today he was scheduled to be on a plane back to Dallas, where he works as a lawyer.

Great Day Rising already has wins this year in shows at River Ridge and Indianapolis, and he most recently took second place in his class two weeks ago at Lexington.

Marple is pointing toward next month's World's Championship Horse Show in Louisville, and he said he wants his horse to face the best competition possible along the way.

"Harrodsburg was the best show we could find," Marple said. "We go to the competition."

But Marple said his trips to Harrodsburg - this is the fourth time he has shown here in the last six years - are also something of a trip back in time.

Some of Marple's roots lie not far from the Mercer ring, and he said that made his victory there even more special.

"It's real special," he said. "We just love this town. It's like going back in time a little bit, it's so refreshing."

Marple's father, Earl Marple, was born in Springfield and rode saddlebred horses from his youth. In fact, Marple said at age 17, his father rode a saddlebred from Springfield to Indianapolis when his family moved there.

Great Day Rising came from Shatner's farm

Marple returned to Springfield last year to buy Great Day Rising at Kalarama Farm. He had high hopes for the horse, which was bred by William Shatner at Shatner's farm near Versailles and won a 3-year-old championship.

Marple bought the horse just before last year's Harrodsburg show and won a third-place ribbon here.

"We did pretty well and we found out what we had," he said.

Marple didn't wear spurs in the ring Wednesday, and he carried no whip. He said that's common practice, and he makes sure the trainers he works with know it.

"All our horses are pets in every sense of the word," he said. "We treat them with kindness."

Marple said Great Day Rising has been kind to him so far, and he looks forward to what the future holds with this horse.

"He's the best horse I've ever had or will ever have," Marple said.

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