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Our Favorite Horse Racing Films

No Seabiscuit in sight.

If dramatic race scenes are what you’re here for then Secretariat should be high on your watch list.

There’s nothing quite like a film about animals to get those tear ducts working. That is, of course, unless that animal is a big-eyed, money-winning, hunk of horse. There’s something about horses, racehorses in particular, that stirs up the emotion in us. It could be their graceful looks, their noble demeanor, their drive to win, any number of things. If you’re after a heartening film that shows guts and athleticism in equal measures, then these horse racing films should be added straight to your to-watch list.

Dream Horse

If you don’t love a good underdog story, then stop reading now, because this film won’t be for you. However, if you love watching an athlete triumph against all odds, then Dream Horse could well be your film of the year. Toni Collette takes center stage in this production, playing a middle-aged woman in two dead-end jobs, right in the middle of the recession in rural Wales. The setting is bleak, but not overdone, as it could so easily have been. Collette, or Jan Vokes, brings together a collection of people from the village with the hopes of breeding a top racehorse from a cheaply-bought broodmare. Against the odds, a foal is born who goes on to be accepted by a world-class trainer. The horse is named Dream Alliance, reflecting the hopes and struggles of the team of people who got it so far. Despite the occasionally volatile temperament of the horse, it defies the odds to become incredibly successful. If the true story of Dream Alliance has inspired you, then you might want to have a look at some of the horses running at Cheltenham this year. Oddschecker has tips for all of the races, including some outside shots with stories not too dissimilar to Dream Alliance himself.


Anyone who’s ever heard of horse racing has surely heard of Secretariat. This horse was undoubtedly the most talented thoroughbred of his era, so it was only fitting that Disney made a movie to commemorate him. Secretariat is certainly not an underdog story, but it is a triumphant, feel-good flick, in exactly the way that Disney does best. True racing enthusiasts may notice some details omitted, and others, notably some horse-whispering, added in for dramatic fairytale effect. However, it never claimed to be a documentary. There are also some brilliant portrayals of surrounding characters. John Malkovich plays trainer Lucien Laurin in an unexpected, but nonetheless charming way, and owner Penny Chenery Tweedy is played by Diane Lane to great effect. You’ll be hard-pressed not to enjoy this plucky, unstoppable woman, and a literally unstoppable horse making their way into horse racing royalty.

Ride Like A Girl

If you’re the sort of person who is moved more by the human story than the horse story, then Ride Like a Girl will leave you in bits.

If you’re after a girl power film then turn this on immediately; also, you can easily do that, because Ride Like a Girl is on Netflix, hooray! Yet another true story, this film follows the journey of Michelle Payne. Michelle is the youngest of ten children, being brought up single-handedly by their father after their mother died in a car crash. The film is riddled with tragedy. Seeing Michelle’s elder sister die from a horse-riding accident is a crushing moment for even the most hard-hearted. Yet amongst the tragedy there is hope. Almost all of the siblings go on to be successful jockeys, but Michelle is exposed to the sexism of the Australian horse-racing world, finding her path a little harder than that of her brothers. Michelle’s resolve is tested in recovery from horrifying falls, and in different ways when she must drop to almost impossible weights to ensure she can ride competitively. Of course, the story is worth the heartache, and Michelle goes on to ride Prince of Penzance to victory in the Melbourne Cup, no less. It’s a little hammy in moments, and if you don’t fancy crying then it’s best to leave well alone, buRide Like a Girl is a truly inspirational tale, certainly one to show any aspiring young riders.


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