After 9 years without a world champion in competitive blacksmithing, a new crown sits atop the head of a familiar name.
Cheshire, England, farrier Matthew Randles wins the 2023 Blacksmith World Championships at the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament by amassing 660 points over the 5-day event in Calgary, Alberta. Dillon Crane of Waxhaw, N.C., is the reserve champion with 601 points, while Steven Beane of Yorkshire, England, rounds out the top three with 591 points. The tournament awards $136,000 in prize money, including $75,000 to the winner.
Randles’ consistency throughout the nine-round tournament led to capturing the championship, finishing in the top four in each. Randles scored 83 points, good for second place, in the fully-fullered – on the foot category; 79 points in the caulk & wedge competition (fourth place); 77 points in speed forging (third place); 77 points in plain stamped – on the foot (fourth place); 85 points, placing first, in deep-seated bar shoe; 81 points in Dutch winter shoe, a third-place finish; 83 points for forging an Italian hind, good for second place; 50 points in the Top 10 round, a first-place finish; and a second-place showing in the Top 5 round with 45 points.
The Calgary Stampede ended the World Championship Blacksmiths Competition after 35 years, citing a desire to evolve and refresh its program. Beane, a five-time world champion, won the last World Championship Blacksmiths Competition at the Calgary Stampede in 2014. Randles was the reserve champion at that tournament. The Stampede continued with a forging exhibition over the 10 days of the event but discontinued it after a few years. World Championship Blacksmiths and Spruce Meadows announced in 2019 the return of the tournament to Calgary in 2020. However, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation. The tournament was revitalized after public health concerns were alleviated.