CROTON — The Hartford Fair wound down Saturday night under the lights with an exciting conclusion to the annual horse pull event.
George Duval, 77, earned the loudest applause of the contest and claimed the heavyweight class championship. The Beaver Dam, Ky., resident guided his pair of horses and pulling team to top honors after becoming the only group to pull 10,500 pounds in the sixth and final round.
The Allender & McIntire team from New Concord extended the event with a successful repull on 10,000 pounds in the fifth round and solidified a second-place finish before passing on the sixth-round weight total. Another Duval team — Russellberg & Duval — captured third place and went out at the 10,000-pound mark with a pull of 24 feet.
All 11 heavyweight horse teams advanced through the first two rounds (6,000 and 7,000 pounds), and the Fredericktown team led by Mike Cole bowed out in Round 3. A majority of the horse teams reached their limit at the 10,000-pound plateau, so the total measured distance, not the required advancement distance, was used for final placings. Only Duval and Allender & McIntire qualified for the final round.
The Mount Vernon team of Mike Rine & Darkes qualified for Round 5 and placed seventh overall. Rine & Darkes nearly went out at 9,000, but a successful repull kept them in competition for another round.
The Johnstown group led by John Roberts also went out at 10,000 pounds and finished ninth. Duval and Roberts were both recipients of this year’s Horsemanship Awards.
This year’s lightweight class included nine teams, and a pair of Kentucky teams earned top placings. Johnny Mahoney guided the first-place team, and Justin Mahoney directed the second-place group. The Uhrichsville team of Ferguson & Moore pulled its way to a third-place finish.