Last seasons version of the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede didn’t start as well as it ended. The first night of races were rained out with four heats remaining. But for the reigning World Champion Kurt
Bensmiller, it was just a small blemish on his trek to claiming this show.
“Medicine Hat has eluded me in the past,” describes Bensmiller. “I’ve made the dash there four or five times. I had a late outrider once and just didn’t get the right barrel draws in some of the other ones. It
was one (of the shows) I wanted to get to put on the resume because it kept eluding me.”
After starting the year without a win, you knew he would kick it in to high gear and get in the win column. Eight years after setting the track record, he would cross the finish line first with a time of 1:02.30.
When a cancellation is called, there’s a lot going into that decision. Bensmiller gives some insight to what happens during this time. “We asses how much money is up, you’re odds because now your barrels sometimes change and where you’re sitting. There’s only a few times a year where that happens.”
The aforementioned rain cancellation allowed Bensmiller to change his team just a bit. With some winter injuries to a couple of his main horses, he was able to get his new recruits into action. “When I hit Medicine Hat, I just about had all my new horses in races. Once the average was gone, I gambled and put a new left wheeler on and a new right wheeler and they won the day money. So I had quite a bit of confidence to put them in the dash.”
Championship Sunday was a great day for Bensmiller to finally claim this show. He drew the one barrel and as we’ve all witnessed over the last number of years, once he’s on the rail with the lead, he’s hard to catch. “I was sure hoping to win. It was exciting to get out there. It was a great day with lots of people in the stands and you got the family there with you. With the new horses really starting to work, and with me getting more confidence in them, once we drew the one barrel I knew we were going to be tough to beat.”
As we look forward to running in Medicine Hat next season, Bensmiller’s goal stays the same. He wants to be running for the Dash for Cash, while seeing consistency in his horses. Medicine Hat is one of his
and his families favourite shows, so there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing Kurt Bensmiller defending his title in Southern Alberta in 2021.
As the dog days of summer quickly approach, we’ll head over to High River next weekend for another rain shortened show at the Guy Weadick Days.
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