By Ryan McCracken on June 19, 2017.
It was a small window of opportunity, but Luke Tournier seized it on Sunday at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede.
The reigning World Professional Chuckwagon Association champion entered the final turn of the main event trailing both Kurt Bensmiller and Doug Irvine, but Tournier saw that Bensmiller had a late outrider and knew he still had a shot.
“When he was looking back I knew he wasn’t looking back at me. I figured he probably had trouble in behind so I thought if I could get by Doug Irvine I might have this one,” said Tournier, who won the Medicine Hat buckle with a final time of 1:01.35. “It just worked out, I had a little luck.”
While Bensmiller crossed the finish line first, his late outrider added a second to his time, dropping him to third at 1:01.62 and pushing Tournier to the top. Reigning Hat champion Doug Irvine settled for second at 1:01.47.
While it’s not the prettiest win of his career, Tournier says he isn’t one to pick and choose.
“It’s great to win anytime,” said Tournier. “Every show you go out to win, and I’m happy to win anything.”
Tournier was joined by his son as an outrider, and says chuckwagon racing has been a family endeavour since Day 1. Tournier’s son, Quaid, serves as one of his outriders alongside Chance Flad, while his other son, Lane, races in the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association.
“It’s been a family thing all the way through. I wouldn’t be able to do this sport if I didn’t have them because they’re the ones who help me get trained and hooked in the spring. It takes a lot of work and a lot of people to do it,” said Tournier, adding Quaid and Flad have been near-perfect additions to his team.
“They rode for me most of last year too and they do a hell of a job,” said Tournier. “They haven’t taken a penalty in forever.”
Tournier said the victory took contributions from the entire team, as his horses gave him all they had down that final stretch, adding Sunday’s particular outfit often doesn’t get a chance to steal the spotlight like they did in front of the Stampede grandstand.
“I use them on the outside barrel so they’re always getting the long run arounds. They don’t get all the glory but they’re a nice, hard-running outfit,” he said. “I was surprised they made that much ground on a short track, I’m really happy with them actually.”
Tournier took the three-day aggregate with a combined time of 3:07.80 to earn a place in Sunday’s championship heat. Bensmiller finished second overall at 3:07.91 and Irvine rounded out the top three at 3:08.91.
Jordie Fike took Sunday’s top time with a 1:01.21 run in the fourth heat, followed by Colt Cosgrave’s run of 1:01.31 in the sixth heat and Tournier’s 1:01.35.
Jason Glass took the day money on Saturday with a time of 1:01.41 in the 10th heat.
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