There’s something about horse racing that captures the public imagination. Maybe it’s the speed and excitement of it or the luxury and decadence of this “sport of kings”. Perhaps it’s the beauty of its equine athletes or the incredible relationship between man and beast. Whatever it is that draws us to it, we’ve all been caught up in the thrill of it.
Not only do we like to watch racing play out on our television screens, but we love films about it too. This is evidenced by the slew of titles in existence, all of them centreing around the incredible animals and athletes who’ve inspired and enthralled us.
Here, we take a look back at the best horse racing films of all time.
Horse racing is a sport we feel invested in. Whether it’s betting on the underdog or spectating from the stands, it’s easy to get swept up in the action. Perhaps that’s why there’s a multibillion-pound industry surrounding it, and why we’re rooting so strongly for the 9/2 Dr Zempf in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket after trainer Ger Lyons’ previous disastrous outing.
But if there’s one horse who really knew how to garner public support, it was the star of this movie: the unparalleled Seabiscuit. Capturing the hearts of a nation, the Depression-era superstar won – and then won again – against all the odds. This film tells his story, while cleverly entwining it with those of his jockey, trainer, and owner.
There’s a reason 1930s America became obsessed with Seabiscuit, and this movie does the most marvellous job of showing it. Watch it when you need a pick-me-up. We promise you won’t regret it.
Secretariat was – and arguably still is – one of the most famous racehorses of all time. Tall, handsome, and lightning-fast, he had all the hallmarks of a star, but his beginnings were humbler than you might imagine. Written off as too immature and underdeveloped as a youngster, “Big Red” took some time to grow up, but when he did, he took the racing world by storm.
This is his tale – one filled with the incredible highs of top-tier racing. Charting the story of this unrivalled racehorse, it will have you cheering him on from your sofa even though you already know he’ll triumph at the end.
Beautifully shot and emotive, Secretariat is the perfect feel-good film for a rainy afternoon. You’ll even get to relive his incredible Triple Crown victory of ’73.
Sometimes, old really is gold, as in the case of this 1983 title. Based on the life of the titular racehorse, it tells the story of a phenomenal Thoroughbred and the unlikely team who turned him into a champion.
Sadly, it’s not all uplifting. The real Phar Lap died mysteriously at just five years of age, with many believing he was poisoned with arsenic. This adds an element of tragedy to the tale, which is only deepened by the beautiful depiction of the bond between equestrians and their horses. For this reason, we recommend watching with a box of tissues to hand.
Which of these films will you watch first? With so many good options, you’ll be spoiled for choice!