A Smallwood farrier has become the first blacksmith world champion in nine years.
And the trophy Matt Randles lifted following the competition in Canada, a detailed steel design of a horse’s lower leg and shoed hoof, was made by his father Mike Randles of Biddulph Moor, who watched proudly in Calgary as his son beat 63 competitors from 12 countries.
Known as the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament, the championships ended with the famous Calgary Stampede.
Matt is the first to succeed at “the double” having won the bi-annual European Farrier Championships in Sweden in June last year.
In Calgary this month he amassed the winning 660 points over five days of competition and was so far ahead that he would have been crowned world champion without having to compete in the final.
He beat Dillon Crane of North Carolina to take the title while Yorkshire farrier Steven Bean took third place.
Matt won thanks to his consistency throughout the nine-round tournament, finishing in the top four in each. Categories included speed forging, caulk and wedge, plain stamped and Dutch winter shoe.
Matt had been the reserve champion at the last world championship held at the Calgary Stampede in 2013 and 2014.
The competition had not been staged since, until this year, hence the significance of his success.
“I’m over the moon and although I’m back at work now it’s not really sunk in yet,” Matt told the Chronicle.
“Having been the reserve world champion in 2013 and 2014 I’ve been waiting to win it outright for many years so to come back and win it and be world champion is fantastic.”
The 39-year-old married father of two described the competition as “intense”. “You are competing against the clock, against the world’s top farriers and the work has got to be of the highest quality. You’ve got to get it right first time as there is now going back and trying again.”
As part of his training schedule he had been shoeing horses in his workshop for six weeks leading up to the world championships.
Matt has been competing for the last 18 years or so and has appeared in England’s national farrier team 15 times. In a few weeks, he will be representing his country at the international shoeing competition in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
The world blacksmith champion, originally from Congleton is a third generation farrier following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather Joe Randles, from Knutsford.
Dad Mike had been planning on designs for a trophy for years after a request to make one for when the world championships were due to be held in England in 2017.
The event didn’t happen on home turf but he was asked to make one for the world championships in Canada in 2020, which was cancelled due to the pandemic.
He then contacted the organisers of this month’s world championships to see if they would like the trophy that he had already started – and they gave him the thumbs up.
What had started out some years earlier as a steel trophy replicating the bones of a horse’s leg had become what Mike described as an “anatomically correct” 12-inch-high version of a horses lower leg and shoed hoof complete with copper tendons, bronze and aluminium ligaments, Damasteel hoof capsule and a stainless steel shoe.
The trophy will be used in perpetuity at the world championships for years to come. It is now on permanent display in the trophy room at the Spruce Meadows Equestrian Centre in Calgary.
Mike will be making bronze cast replicas of the trophy as well.
Of his son’s success he said: “I think it’s absolutely amazing, it’s the first time someone has been world and European champion. Matt won in Calgary with a 59-point lead and didn’t need to compete in the final to win overall because he was so far out in front.”
He added: “We took the decision to leave the trophy in Calgary so it would not be lost in transit. It is now on permanent display in the trophy room.”
Congratulating the Smallwood farrier’s achievement, World Championship Blacksmiths posted: “Mr Matthew Randles, England, is the 2023 world champion! Shout it from the roof tops! After nine years without a world champion we now have one! Biggest of all congratulations Matt, we couldn’t be happier and prouder of you!”