Just like there have been many legendary and champion racehorses over the years throughout the world, there have also been some really good movies made about some of these racehorses. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the best films about racehorses and horse racing that you might want to check out.
These are all films based on true like accounts and not fictional racehorses or scenarios.
This is a film centred around champion American racehorse Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown. The film was released in 2010 by Walt Disney Pictures and stars Diane Lane as Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, as well as John Malkovich as the trainer, Lucien Laurin.
The year is 1969 and Penny agrees to take over her ill father’s racing stable. She knows very little about the male dominated business of horse racing, and the story depicts her efforts, with the help of Laurin, to overcome the odds to produce the first winner of the illustrious Triple Crown in 25 years. She achieves this with her champion horse, Secretariat.
The film received mixed reviews from critics, but was still a hit at the box office and a favourite amongst movie goers who love films about horses.
Based on a bestselling book and the champion racehorse Seabiscuit, this is a 2003 feature film directed by Gary Ross. Starring Toby Maguire, Chris Cooper and Jeff Bridges, the story takes place during the Great Depression and depicts how Seabiscuit rose to stardom against the odds to defeat Triple Crown winner, War Admiral, in a match race.
Seabiscuit captured the imagination of the American public during the darkest days of the Great Depression, much the same way Phar Lap did in Australia around the same time.
Seabiscuit was a huge commercial success as a film and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and numerous other film industry awards.
One of Phar Lap’s most famous race victories was when he won the 1930 Melbourne Cup in fine style. In fact, his racing career is so legendary that a feature film was made about Phar Lap in 1983.
Simon Wincer’s film is rated as one of the greatest ever films made about horse racing.
The film actually starts off with the tragic death of Phar Lap, seen cradled in strapper Tommy Woodcock’s arms. After that, the film goes into flashback mode and depicts the drama of Phar Lap’s life, the building of a champion racehorse, how he captured the Australian public’s attention during the Great Depression, right through to Phar Lap’s unfortunate death, which is still shrouded in a cloud of mystery even to this day.
It’s a powerful movie with an even more powerful story.
This 2011 movie is another film directed by Simon Wincer, this time following the on course life of champion Australian jockey, Damien Oliver. The film wasn’t anywhere near as big a hit as Wincer’s Phar Lap had been, but still a film about horse racing that’ll definitely keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Going through a family tragedy at the time, the film follows Damien Oliver as he journeys to Melbourne Cup winning glory in 2002, riding underdog racehorse, Media Puzzle.
Of course, Damien Oliver is rated as one of the best jockeys to ever jump in the racing saddle, and it’s a really good movie for fans of Oliver and Australian thoroughbred racing.
This feature film was released back in 1984 and is about the true story of Bob Champion, a British Steeplechase jockey who, against all odds, managed to overcome cancer to win the 1981 Grand National riding Aldaniti. The horse actually appeared in this film, which is rare for a movie made about a real life racehorse.
Champion’s on screen character is played by John Hurt, for which he won an award at the Evening Standard British Film Awards for his portrayal of the lead character.
The film has received mostly favourable reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, and has developed a bit of a cult following amongst British horse racing fans.
The message of the film is focused on the determination of Bob Champion to overcome a debilitating disease to finally emerge as a true champion.