If there’s one movie genre that’s pretty much guaranteed to keep cinema-goers on the edge of their seats as they follow their hero’s escapades, it’s the sporting genre – just think of all those motivational montages over the years.

The big screen has brought us a string of spectacular sporting titles from wrestling titles that get to grips with the struggles of fame, to horse-racing epics that come close to recreating the excitement of the track.

So, with the high-profile Cheltenham Festival a matter of weeks away, here’s our pick for some of the best horse racing movies of recent years:

SEABISCUIT (2003)

Racing was given the Hollywood treatment with the Seabiscuit movie that, while based on a true tale, provided an emotional weight to the story of an undersized thoroughbred horse that delivered many shock victories during the Depression years in the US.

Although such an occurrence of rags-to-riches success would undoubtedly cause a stir on the British racing scene, it does prove that in the world of sport, just about anything is possible. This is especially so as Seabiscuit was renowned as being the common man’s betting favourite.

 

DREAMER (2005)

Based on another real-life story, that of mare Mariah’s Storm, this is yet another ‘against the odds’ tale that focuses on an injured horse battling back to fitness to participate in the glamorous Breeder’s Cup in Kentucky.

Starring the likes of Kurt Russell, Kris Kristofferson and Dakota Fanning, this effort received pretty positive reviews when it hit cinemas in October 2005.

 

SECRETARIAT (2010)

A legendary horse in many ways, Secretariat became the first US Triple Crown winner in 25 years when he stormed to victory in a record time at the Belmont Stakes in 1973.

Considered one of America’s greatest-ever racehorses, Secretariat became an American icon, claiming such high-profile triumphs as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes over the years.

Owned by Penny Chenery, this tale unsurprisingly got the big-screen treatment in 2010, with Diane Lane taking on the role of Chenery, backed up by the likes of John Malkovich (as trainer Lucien Laurin), James Cromwell and Scott Glenn.

 

 

CHAMPIONS (1984)

We are back on British shores for this one, with the story of Bob Champion, a jockey who fought back from testicular cancer to win the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti.

The heart-warming triumph saw Champion and Aldaniti claim BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, while the race itself is considered a truly iconic moment in not only racing, but sport itself.

John Hurt took on the role of Champion in the film, backed up by the likes of Edward Woodward and Kirstie Alley in a film directed by John Irvin and released in 1984.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle