By TPH Intern Mackenzie Shuman | Photos By: Mackenzie Shuman
The crowd took a breath, the stadium went silent, and suddenly, the entire National Western Show Complex was filled with an uproar of excited cheers for the unbelievable pair of Kristin Hardin and La Belle Soirée. Defying the odds, Hardin tied for first on La Belle Soiree as well as a horse named Bert in the $10,000 Monarch Casino’s Gambler Choice Jumper Stake with a total score of 1,030 at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado.
However, this was no new feat for Hardin who last year she won not only first and second, but third place as well. Expressing her emotions, she said, “I just feel really good; it makes me feel like something is working.”
From California, Hardin, 49, was no stranger to the National Western Stock Show atmosphere, although she is still in awe over a full stadium full of rowdy fans. “The horses love it and it makes me feel good that lots of people still love our sport…I love going into the arena with the huge crowd, and I perform better with a bigger crowd,” she said with a big smile. She wasn’t disappointed with the crowd for the Gambler’s Choice this year, as most of the stands were filled and the resulting roar from the spectators was tremendous.
The first horse she rode in the class, Bert, is a longtime partner for Hardin. “I have had him for the past six years and he’s like my soul mate. He was really good tonight too, even though yesterday he was crazy in the warm up. He surprised me today,” she said, as Bert stood behind her, calmly watching the constant line of tourists and spectators walk through the barns after the big class. The two obviously share a sort of chemistry, as their round was nearly flawless and they had the poise of a top pair.
La Belle Soirée is a brand new ride for her, as it was only her second class on the horse. “Yesterday was the first time I had ever ridden her, and it was a little class. Since she was good in that one I said, ‘Well, why don’t I see how she is in the Gambler’s!’ I went into the class today with the exact same plan with her as I did with Bert, and we got the same exact score and time.”
Hardin plans to ride Bert in the $40,000 NWSS Grand Prix presented by Monarch Casino with high hopes for another great round in the extravagant and wild National Western Show Complex.
The official results of the $10,000 Monarch Casino’s Gambler’s Choice Jumper Stake class go as follows:
1st and 2nd: Kristin Hardin riding Bert and La Belle Soirée
3rd: Karen Cudmore riding Ceonto
4th: Matt Cyphert riding Lochnivar
5th: Brooke Cudmore riding Lalique
6th: Emma Montesi riding Unspoken
7th: Natascha Gates riding Cambodia
8th: Karen Cudmore riding Southern Pride
9th: Charlie Carrel riding Utopik
10th: Megan Faillaci riding Cecarelli