Kurt Bensmiller defended his GMC Rangeland Derby championship title, taking the two in row and claiming the $100,000 cheque at the Calgary stampede on July 12.
The limelight belonged to the 32 year old from Dewberry on the final night of the Calgary Stampede, he had the speed and beat Sutherland in his Air Canada and Tervita outfit by more than a wagon length across the finish line.
“It feels really good,” said the young Bensmiller last week after he returned to Dewberry.
After eight nights of racing, Bensmiller finished at the top of the standings and was awarded the Richard Cosgrave Memorial Trophy and a 2015 GMC 3500 HD truck as the aggregate champion.
The media controversy surrounding the four horses that died at this year’s Stampede from injuries sustained during chuckwagon racing raised animal safety questions and some animal rights activists claimed it was cruelty to animals.
“I don’t think they are informed enough, all they have to do is come to one of our farms or during the day and see how much we look after them and how much time we put into them,” said Bensmiller.
”We don’t put them in harm’s way at all. Our horses are all thoroughbreds so their whole purpose in life is to run so we allow them to keep running. If they didn’t like what they were doing they wouldn’t do it. They are not stupid, horses are very smart animals. If the horses thought they were in harm’s way they definitely wouldn’t do their jobs,” added Bensmiller.
For Kurt Bensmiller it was his second time standing on the stage and owning the glory following in the footsteps of his legendary dad, Buddy, who won the Calgary Stampede in 1979, ’89 and 2003.
Now with two titles under his belt, Bensmiller only needs one more to equal his dad’s total of three Rangeland Derby championship runs.
“I would like to pass him if I could. It would take one more title to tie him in Calgary, but he’s got so many more that I’ll never be able to match what he has won everywhere else,” said Bensmiller.
After racing three straight weeks in a row Bensmiller said he was tired and that he is still focused on finishing out the end of the season. “We’ve still got a month left to race to finish out this season. I haven’t thought too much about what I’m going to do yet for time off.”
Bensmiller gave credit to his legendary father and his crew for all the help he’s got over the years. “I appreciate all the support from everybody in the local area and my crew.”
When asked if he would like to achieve the hat trick next year Bensmiller answered,
“For sure, you don’t get too many opportunities to win let alone three in a row so it would definitely be a real feat to win three in a row, but the odds will definitely be against it because it takes a lot of work to work out for me to be up on that stage.”