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    Best Horse Racing movies of all time
Best Horse Racing movies of all time
Seabiscuit (2003). Source: Visit Maryland

Best Horse Racing movies of all time

Horse racing, with its blend of triumph, drama, and the sheer thrill of the race, has long provided fertile ground for filmmakers. These stories, often based on true events or woven into gripping fictional narratives, captivate audiences with their portrayal of the human and equine spirit. 

Here are eleven standout films that bring the world of horse racing to life, listed in no particular order.

Champions (1984)

"Champions" narrates the inspiring true story of jockey Bob Champion and his miraculous victory at the Grand National. Overcoming cancer and partnering with the horse Aldaniti, who had also beaten the odds to recover from a career-threatening injury, Bob's win in 1981 became legendary. John Hurt stars as Champion, with Edward Woodward and Jan Francis in supporting roles, and Aldaniti playing himself. This heart-warming film epitomises perseverance and triumph.

Champions (1984). Source: IMDb
Champions (1984). Source: IMDb

Seabiscuit (2003)

Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, "Seabiscuit" chronicles the story of an underdog racehorse who became a symbol of hope. The film follows the intertwined lives of his jockey, Red Pollard, owner Charles Howard, and trainer Tom Smith. Together, they transform Seabiscuit from a troubled horse into a champion, culminating in his victory at the Santa Anita Handicap. Starring Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges, with a cameo by jockey Gary Stevens, this film captures the spirit of resilience.

Dream Horse (2020)

"Dream Horse" is the uplifting true tale of Dream Alliance, a racehorse bred by a Welsh barmaid on a humble allotment. Despite a serious injury, Dream Alliance went on to win the prestigious Welsh Grand National. This cinematic retelling of the underdog story stars Toni Collette and Damian Lewis. The film, which follows a documentary called "Dark Horse," beautifully showcases the triumph of the unlikely champion.

Dream Horse (2020). Source: Punch Drunk Critics
Dream Horse (2020). Source: Punch Drunk Critics

Secretariat (2010)

"Secretariat" tells the story of one of America's most legendary racehorses. The film begins with Penny Chenery, who, after the death of her mother, takes over her father's stables despite knowing little about horse racing. Under her stewardship, Secretariat becomes the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich, this film is a tribute to an incredible horse and the woman who believed in him.

Ride Like A Girl (2019)

"Ride Like A Girl" portrays the groundbreaking journey of Michelle Payne, the first and only woman to win the Melbourne Cup. The film, starring Teresa Palmer and Sam Neill, captures her historic 2015 victory aboard Prince Of Penzance. Michelle's brother, Stevie Payne, who also stars in the film, plays himself. This true story is a powerful testament to breaking barriers in sports.

Ride Like A Girl (2019). Source: IMDb
Ride Like A Girl (2019). Source: IMDb

Phar Lap (1983)

This film chronicles the life of Phar Lap, New Zealand's most celebrated racehorse. Arriving in Australia looking unimpressive, Phar Lap went on to dominate the racing scene, winning the 1930 Melbourne Cup. The film follows his challenges and successes, including an ill-fated journey to America. Tom Burlinson and Richard Morgan bring this compelling story to life, capturing the essence of Phar Lap’s legacy.

National Velvet (1944)

"National Velvet" is a classic fictional tale featuring a young Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown, a girl who dreams of winning the Grand National. Velvet wins a horse in a raffle and, with the help of a drifter named Mi Taylor (played by Mickey Rooney), trains it for the big race. Despite winning, they face disqualification as Velvet collapses from exhaustion. This iconic film remains a beloved story of youthful ambition and adventure.

Dead Cert (1974)

Adapted from Dick Francis' debut novel, "Dead Cert" is a suspenseful thriller set in the world of horse racing. The story revolves around jockey Alan York, who suspects foul play after his friend, jockey Bill Davidson, dies in a race. As York investigates, he uncovers a web of deceit that puts his own life in danger. Starring Judi Dench, this film is a gripping narrative filled with intrigue and danger.

Murphy’s Stroke (1980)

"Murphy’s Stroke" delves into one of British horse racing’s most daring betting scandals. The film recounts the true story of millionaire Tony Murphy's scheme to defraud bookmakers by orchestrating a surprise win with the horse Gay Future at Cartmel in 1974. This audacious plot, featuring Pierce Brosnan and Niall Tobin, ends in a courtroom drama. It's a fascinating tale of real-life deception and cunning.

The Rainbow Jacket (1954)

This charming film follows a disgraced jockey, Sam, who mentors a young protégé, Georgie Crain. Their journey leads to an intense finish in the St Leger race. Despite being banned for urging Georgie on, Sam retires happily, having made a fortune from betting. The film stars Bill Owen, Sid James, and Robert Morley, and was produced by Ealing Studios, now the home of Racing TV.

Come On George! (1939)

A light-hearted comedy featuring George Formby, "Come On George!" showcases his talents as a stable lad who can calm a nervous racehorse. In a humorous turn of events, he ends up riding and winning a race despite several mishaps. This 1939 film, filled with Formby’s ukulele music, offers a delightful blend of comedy and racing, though it’s best enjoyed without looking too closely at the racing inaccuracies.

Come On George! (1939). Source: British Comedy Guide
Come On George! (1939). Source: British Comedy Guide

These films, each with their unique stories and cinematic styles, celebrate the drama, triumphs, and sometimes, the darker side of horse racing. From true stories of resilience to fictional tales of adventure and intrigue, they bring the excitement and emotion of the racetrack to the big screen.


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