Danny Ringuette earns the Orville Stranquist Memorial award for Top Rookie at the 2019 Calgary Stampede. Image credit: CPCA Facebook.
Two rookie chuckwagon racers, including Bonnyville’s own Danny Ringuette got their first taste of the Calgary Stampede.
Kris Flanagan and Danny Ringuette each enjoyed the experience at the Stampede amongst the world’s best.
Flanagan currently sits 18th in the CPCA standings, while Danny Ringuette, who placed 5th on Day 1 and followed that up with Top 20 finishes on Day 8-10 finishing 16th twice and 20th, currently sits in 9th in the standings.
Ringuette said the first time at the Calgary Stampede wasn’t too overwhelming.
He even earned the Orville Stranquist Memorial award for Rookie of the Year at the GMC Rangeland Derby and 20th overall.
“I just took it as any other race. You just got to get out there and have fun and have a good experience and it seemed to work,” said Ringuette.
Ringuette was involved in one of the most highlighted events of the Rangeland Derby, the accident that led to Chad Harden’s disqualification and potentially banishment from the Calgary Stampede.
Stampede officials said that Chad Harden impeded Ringuette’s wagon which caused the collision with Evan Salmond last Thursday.
One of Salmond’s horses died, while three more were seriously injured.
Ringuette said it’s a situation you never want to be in as a driver.
“Everybody makes mistakes and that happened. And it just was a tough deal. But it’s a situation that I never want to be in…It could have been any of us that did that mistake.
“His intent wasn’t to injure anybody or any horses,” said Ringuette.
Could’ve been Top 20
Kris Flanagan finished 12th on Day 3, 18th on Day 4, and earned a top-10 finish on Day 9 by placing 9th.
“I think I did pretty good at a couple of days there,” he said.
“I think everybody’s goal is to get semi-final, top 10. Even as a rookie, you want to do the best and try and… obviously you want to win it. I mean, that’s setting your goal really high. But if you don’t set your goals high is there’s nothing worth running for.
“Take my few penalties away, I probably would have been top 20 or maybe a little lower,” said Flanagan.
The pressure around animal safety at the Stampede was ramped up this year, as there were the second most injuries in the Rangeland Derby’s history with six horses dying.
Flanagan said the horses are like family members and are treated extremely well.
“Even when it’s somebody else’s horse that gets hurt, it hits home with everybody. If they don’t want to run, they’re not on the wagon, they go do something else.
“Just look at the history. I mean, usually it’s a one maybe or none throughout the whole ten days,” he said.
Both Ringuette and Flanagan will head to Little Pine, Saskatchewan with more precious experience under their belts about how to approach the Stampede next year.
“I know what it’s like to be in Calgary. And I want to go back just drive safe and clean, have some fun and try to enjoy it as much as I can,” said Ringuette.
Flanagan said: “The next step is trying to win it. I’ll probably concentrate more on making sure I know which outfits I can drive which day in which barrels. The first year is just get through it and put on a good show and maybe get a couple good runs….now you know what to expect.”
Danny Ringuette is sponsored by National Motor Coach/Friends of the Brakemen.
Kris Flanagan is sponsored by The Legends.
Doug Irvine finished with just outside of the Top 10 on Day 7 with 11th place.