One of only a few genuinely global sports, horse racing has legions of fans all around the world. A popularity which has regularly spilled over into the realm of film making, with many racing movies hitting the screen – some good, and some not so good. But which are the best bet for racing fans? Here we pick out our top ten.
10. National Velvet
Based on the 1935 novel of the same name, this 1944 feature stars Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown. Entering Velvet’s life as a raffle prize, a horse by the name of The Pie quickly becomes the apple of the young girl’s eye, eventually progressing to take part in the Grand National in this feel-good classic.
9. On The Nose
Starring Dan Aykroyd and Robbie Coltrane, this 2001 fantasy comedy centres around an ancient aboriginal head able to predict horse racing winners. Featuring a rehabilitated gambler and run-ins with the mob, this movie is as chaotic as it sounds, and all the more entertaining for it.
Despite being injured and unable to produce a foal, Sonador captures the heart of a young Dakota Fanning, before embarking upon a recovery fit for a Hollywood script. Loosely based on the career of Grade 1 performer Mariah’s Storm, this movie benefits from a strong cast including Kris Kristofferson and Kurt Russell.
Champions tells the incredible true story of Bob Champion and Aldaniti. In one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time, Champion defied a cancer diagnosis to team up with the injury plagued Aladaniti and claim glory in Britain’s biggest betting race of the Grand National. Whether there will be so spectacular a tale in this years edition seems unlikely, but for all of the best odds check out our list of Grand National New Betting Sites .
A Walt Disney production starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich, this 2010 picture tells the story of one of the most popular American racehorses of all time. Affectionately known as “Big Red”, Secretariat won the Triple Crown in scintillating style back in 1973, and this movie does an excellent job of relaying that legendary tale to a modern audience.
5. The Black Stallion
Based upon a classic children’s novel by Walter Farley, this action-packed feature charts the journey of The Black Stallion; from humble beginnings in North Africa, to a new home in America and ultimately glorious success at the racetrack.
4. Ride Like A Girl
The next true to life tale comes from Australia, via the brilliant exploits of the first female to ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup. Told she would never make it as she climbed through the ranks, Michelle Payne not only did make it, but made it in such spectacular style that they made a movie about her.
3. Phar Lap
Making the short trip from Australia to New Zealand, Phar Lap charts the career of New Zealand’s greatest ever racehorse. From underweight and sickly beginnings, Phar Lap achieved huge popularity and success throughout the Great Depression, before sadly meeting a tragic end. A real emotional rollercoaster!
The number two spot belongs to one of the most famous horses of all time. Undersized and overlooked at the sales, Seabiscuit went on to defy all expectations, beating War Admiral in the “Race of the Century” on his way to a hall of fame career. With the relationship between the horse and washed-up rider John Pollard – played here by Tobey Maguire – lending a dose of human drama, this is undoubtedly one of the finest horse racing films ever made.
1. Dream Horse
Topping our list is this 2020 comedy drama. Starring Damien Lewis and an excellent Toni Collette, this movie tells the true story of Dream Alliance. Bred by a Welsh bartender, and financially supported by a local syndicate, Dream Alliance overcame injury and adversity to claim a spectacular win in the Welsh Grand National. A rags to riches tale with a dose of humour, this one is well worth checking out.