Trainer Bill Ellis had left the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City a few days ago and returned to his home Ocala, Fla.
But when he learned Friday that the horse he trained, Un Forgettable, had a chance to win the coveted Farnam Superhorse award, he quickly caught a flight back to Oklahoma City.
“My partner, David Connors, has been involved with three (Superhorse winners),” said the 61-year-old Ellis. “This is my first at my ripe old age.”
Ellis has been in the horse industry for 45 years and has been bringing horses to the world championship show in Oklahoma City for 20 years.
What makes Un Forgettable special is “the quality of the horse physically along with his disposition,” Ellis said. “For being a stallion, he really has a very good disposition.”
The 6-year-old gray stallion is owned by Laura Te Grotenhuis of Marshall, Ill.
Un Forgettable earned a total of 38 points in the two-week show at State Fair Park to become the first English performance horse since 2009 to earn Superhorse honors.
Un Forgettable was shown in five classes during the show that concluded Saturday.
The stallion won the world championship in senior pleasure driving and the reserve world title in senior hunter under saddle.
Un Forgettable also placed fifth in senior hunter hack, sixth in performance halter stallions and 12th in senior working hunter.
Last year at the AQHA world championship show, Un Forgettable won one world title and one reserve world crown while also earning a fourth-place finish, giving his owner a foreshadowing of the future.
“I had dreams this might happen,” said Grotenhuis, who bought Un Forgettable 14 months ago. “It's just a whole fairy tale.”
Winning the Farnam Superhorse award comes with a $25,000 cash prize, $2,000 of Farnam products and an original Lisa Perry bronze.
The reserve Superhorse was Blue Sky Serenade, owned by Rodger Call of Fort Worth, Texas.
The 5-year-old brown gelding was shown in four classes and earned 37 points, winning reserve world championships in junior hunter hack and pleasure driving.
Ninety-eight world champions were crowned at the AQHA world show, which has been held in Oklahoma City for the past 38 years.