Based on: Thoroughbred Racehorse – 1973 US Triple Crown Winner
Cast: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Drew Roy, Otto Thorwarth, Margo Martindale
A housewife with little knowledge of horse-racing fosters one of the greatest race horses of all time as the story of the 1973 Triple Crown winner comes to the screen in this inspirational underdog drama based on the novel Secretariat: The Making of a Champion by William Nack and starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich. Penny Chenery is a devoted mother and housewife whose ailing father is the proprietor of Meadow Stables in Virginia. When her father becomes too ill to tend to his horses, Penny agrees to take over the stables despite her inexperience. Desperate, she turns to veteran horse trainer Lucien Laurin to help show her the ropes. Up to this point, horse racing has been a decidedly male-dominated sport. But with Lucien’s help, Penny prepares to prove that gender has no bearing on one’s ability to breed a fast race horse. As Secretariat blasts out of the gates to leave his competition in the dust, the whole world watches in amazement, and a legend is born
Based on: Champion Thoroughbred Racehorse during the Great Depression
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper
It’s the Depression, and everyone needs to hold onto a dream to get them through the bad times. Car maker Charles Howard is no different, he who is trying to rebuild his life after the tragic death of his only child and the resulting end of his first marriage. With second wife Marcela at his side, Charles wants to get into horse racing and ends up with a team of underdogs who are also chasing their own dream. The first is trainer Tom Smith, who has a natural instinct to spot the capabilities of horses. The second is the horse Tom chooses for Charles, Seabiscuit, an unconventional choice as despite his pedigreed lineage, Seabiscuit is small at fifteen and a half hands tall with a slight limp. But Tom can see something in Seabiscuit’s nature to make him a winner, if only Seabiscuit can be retrained from his inbred losing ways. And third is the jockey they decide to hire, Johnny “Red” Pollard, so nicknamed because of his hair color. Like Tom, Red has always shown a natural way with horses, but a difficult upbringing due solely to the Depression has made Red an angry young man, which has gotten him into trouble both on and off the track. And he is large for a jockey, and thus he always feels the need to battle the weight issue. Another common trait between Tom, Seabiscuit and Red is that they have been called crazy by those in traditional horse racing circles. Against the odds, Seabiscuit, with his human team behind him, does show his winning abilities and captures the imagination of all those others wanting to believe in a dream. But Seabiscuit’s victories are at smaller races. As such, Charles aims high and wants Seabiscuit to race Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who by all accounts is a winner and should be a winner. If given the chance to race against War Admiral (whose owner doesn’t want to race as he feels he has nothing to prove), will Seabiscuit and his team continue to keep the dreams of the common Americans alive? Through the good and the bad, especially as Red and Seabiscuit face mirroring problems, they all have to decide what is in their collective best interest.
Based on: Thoroughbred Racehorse Mariah’s Storm
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Kris Kristofferson, Elisabeth Shue
Ben, a horse trainer who takes his work very seriously, neglects his precocious daughter while he pours his heart into the care of the horses that he trains. Determined to make good on her father’s overdue promise, Cale prods him to take her along to work and succeeds. One morning, a horse named Soñador falls during a race, injuring herself so badly that Ben’s boss, Palmer, demands the horse be put down. Having Cale along, Ben instead strikes a bargain with Palmer and becomes the owner of the wounded horse. With no job and facing foreclosure on his property, he decides to breed Soñador. Cale, having fallen in love at first sight with Soñador, begins to sneak out to the barn at night to see her. She also sneaks over to see her grandfather, ‘Pop’, Ben’s dad, who loves teaching his granddaughter about horses. One day, Cale hears her father tell her mother, Lily, that Soñador has ruined them. Lily responds that Soñador is the best thing that has ever happened to them, alluding to the fact that Ben is finally spending much-needed time with Cale. Hurt after hearing the conversation, Cale sets out to run away and saddles Soñador. Not knowing of Cale’s plan, Ben enters the barn. The door slams behind him, and a startled Soñador bolts out of the barn with Cale hanging on for dear life. Ben scrambles to his truck and sets out after them. This incident begins to cement the newly forming bond between father and daughter and heal the wounds of the whole family. In the end, Soñador wins a major race and goes from being a negative focal point to the hero of the movie.
Based on: The legend of the American distance rider Frank Hopkins and his mustang Hidalgo
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Zuleikha Robinson, Omar Sharif, Louise Lombard
Held yearly for centuries, the Ocean of Fire–a 3,000 mile survival race across the Arabian desert–was a challenge restricted to the finest Arabian horses ever bred, the purest and noblest lines, owned by the greatest royal families. In 1890, a wealthy sheik invited an American, Frank T. Hopkins, and his horse to enter the race for the first time. During the course of his career, Hopkins was a cowboy and dispatch rider for the U.S. cavalry–and had once been billed as the greatest rider the West had ever known. The Sheik puts his claim to the test, pitting the American cowboy and his mustang, Hidalgo, against the world’s greatest Arabian horses and Bedouin riders–some of whom are determined to prevent a foreigner from finishing the race. For Frank, the Ocean of Fire becomes not only a matter of pride and honor, but a race for his very survival as he and his horse attempt the impossible.
Based on: Biographical film about the 2002 Melbourne Cup horse race & Damien Oliver’s victory in the 2002 Melbourne Cup
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Curry as Damien Oliver, Daniel MacPherson
Born into a legendary racing family, jockeys Damien Oliver and his brother, Jason, followed in their father’s footsteps. Ray Oliver died tragically in a racing accident when the boys were young. But racing was in their blood, and Damien in particular inherited his father’s gifts. His eye was on the greatest championship of them all, the prestigious Melbourne Cup. After years of training, he was ready. Damien would ride the powerful but temperamental Media Puzzle, under the watch of the great Irish trainer Dermot Weld. Some were not so sure about Media Puzzle’s chances, but Weld was confident that the great jockey and spirited horse would make an unbeatable combination. As racing day approached, horses, jockeys, trainers, owners, fans and the media from around the globe descended on Melbourne. Weld’s fiercest rival, Sheikh Mohammed, the Crown prince of Dubai, sent his best horses, anxious for a Melbourne Cup win. The news channels were filled with talk and speculation about Damien and Media Puzzle. The air was heavy with excitement and anticipation. But seven days before the race, Jason fell while racing in Perth. He was rushed to the hospital, where Damien and his family waited anxiously for the doctor’s report. The news was tragic. Jason would not recover. The family history repeated itself. The devastated family made the hardest decision of their lives and agreed to disconnect the life support. Grief-stricken, Damien told Weld that he wasn’t sure he could compete – in fact, he wasn’t sure he would ever to race again. To race without Jason seemed unthinkable. Struggling with his sadness, with the support of his family and Weld, Damien slowly realized that racing was the one way he could pay tribute to the memory of his beloved brother. In a climatic showdown, as the starting gun goes off, Damien and Media Puzzle leap from the gate. “This is for you, Jace!” Damien shouts as he runs the race of his life. They cross the finish line to the thunderous roar of the crowd. Damien and Media Puzzle win the Melbourne Cup in an unforgettable story that captured the attention – and the hearts – of the world.
Based on: An Adaptation of British author Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel of the same name set before and during the First World War
Cast: Jeremy Irvine. Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Leonard Carow, David Kross, Céline Buckens, Niels Arestrup
To his wife’s dismay farmer Narracott buys a thoroughbred horse rather than a plough animal, but when his teenaged son Albert trains the horse and calls him Joey, the two becoming inseparable. When his harvest fails, the farmer has to sell Joey to the British cavalry and he is shipped to France where, after a disastrous offensive he is captured by the Germans and changes hands twice more before he is found, caught in the barbed wire in No Man’s Land four years later and freed. He is returned behind British lines where Albert, now a private, has been temporarily blinded by gas, but still recognizes his beloved Joey. However, as the Armistice is declared Joey is set to be auctioned off. After all they have been through will Albert and Joey return home together?
THE HORSE WHISPERER
Based on: 1995 novel The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
Cast: Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill, Dianne Wiest, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Cooper, Cherry Jones
It is a cold winter night. Grace and her best friend Judith go for a ride with their horses, but a terrible accident changes her life forever. A truck hits them, Judith and her horse are killed, while Grace and her horse Pilgrim are seriously injured, both physically and mentally. In an attempt to bring Pilgrim back from his now savage condition, Grace’s mother Annie takes them to Montana in search for Tom Booker. Tom is a “horse whisperer”, a cowboy with the ability to “communicate” with horses. In the land of the Wild West Annie will change the way she sees life forever, as the wise cowboy slowly heals the souls of Pilgrim and Grace…
Based on: 1941 children’s novel My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
Cast: Alison Lohman, Tim McGraw, Maria Bello, Ryan Kwanten, Danny Pino, Dallas Roberts
Coming of age story set in the mountain vistas, A headstrong 16 year old Katy McLaughlin desires to work on her family’s mountainside horse ranch, although her father insists she finish boarding school. Katy finds a mustang in the hills near her ranch. Katy then sets her mind to tame a mustang and prove to her father she can run the ranch. But when tragedy happens, it will take all the love and strength the family can muster to restore hope.
Based on: 1877 novel Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Cast: Docs Keepin Time (horse), Alan Cumming, (voice), Andrew Knott, Sean Bean, David Thewlis, Jim Carter, Peter Davison
Black Beauty, a beautiful black stallion in 1870s England, recalls his life from his birth through his carefree life as a colt to the many hardships he suffered after achieving maturity. He goes through many owners, both good and bad, until he finally finds happiness and contentment.
SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON
Based on: n/a
Cast: Matt Damon as Narrator, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi, Chopper Bernet, Jeff LeBeau
The mustang stallion Spirit grows up to proudly succeed his father as leader of the Cimarron herd in the unspoiled Wild West. When ‘civilization’ reaches Dakota territory, naive curiosity gets him caught by cowboys and sold to the US Cavalry. Its method of training by breaking a horse fails utterly on him. Just when the colonel intends to shoot Spirit, the equally indomitable captured young Lakota brave, Little Creek, escapes on his back. He also tricks him to a coral with his beloved mare, but shows respect and wins some trust. As the railroad arrives, the Indian village is wrecked and Spirit gets captured for use as a draft-horse. When the stallion realizes this project threatens his whole world, he escapes and unleashes the fury of a force of nature, ultimately teaming up with Little Creek.
Hope you all enjoyed this read, what are your top 10