Dark Horse

Dark Horse

Louise Osmond (2014)

86min
PG Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Everyone's a sucker for an underdog story and director Louise Osmond recounts the tale of racing outsider Dream Alliance with a judicious blend of sentiment, wit and inspiration. The plucky horse bounces back from serious injury at Aintree to win the Welsh Grand National in 2009, but this is also a poignant study of a disenfranchised mining community pulling together in the depths of a recession. Osmond might have delved deeper into the morality of National Hunt racing, but with editor Joby Gee she ably relates the account with archive footage, photographs and a few blurry re-constructions. Holding it all together are the recollections of Jan Vokes, the barmaid from Cefn Fforest near Caerphilly who fancied owning a racehorse and persuaded 25 regulars at the Blackwood Working Men's Club to invest £10 a week in a spindly foal of unprepossessing parentage. Her chatter keeps things down-to-earth when Osmond and composer Anne Nikitin are tempted to tug hard on the heartstrings and she gives it plenty of feel-good charm, too.

Summary

Premiere. Documentary charting the tale of Dream Alliance, the thoroughbred racehorse that took the racing circuit by surprise when he won the Welsh National in 2009. The story begins with Jan Vokes, a barmaid living in the struggling former mining community of Cefn Fforest, who decided to put her experience breeding budgerigars, racing pigeons and whippets to use in cracking the `sport of kings'. Purchasing an undesirable thoroughbred mare for £300, and breeding a colt, Jan and her husband Brian arranged a syndicate, collecting £10 a week from locals at her pub to help train their would-be champion. The film charts the group's progress, from Dream Alliance's birth in 2001 through to his entry in the 2010 Grand National.

Cast & Crew

Director Louise Osmond

Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: PicturehouseReleased on: 17 Apr 2015
Documentary