Some favorite horse movies

We recently saw a list of horse movies and thought we would share the top 10. Not sure we agree but we love horse movies!

1. National Velvet (1944) A boy, a girl, a horse, the Grand National and two Oscars. Starring a young Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney, this is a vintage classic and the film that had a generation of girls pestering their dads for a pony. Taylor plays a young girl who believes her troublesome horse has enough ‘oomph’ to win the Grand National and hatches a plot to ride him in the race herself.

2. A Day at the Races (1937) “Either he’s dead or my watch has stopped” more horsing around from those kings of comedy the Marx Brothers – this time at the racetrack. Another classic and a typically wacky mix where a vet posing as a doctor, a race horse owner, and his friends struggle to help keep a sanatorium open with the help of a misfit racehorse. It’s enough to bring tears to a glass eye.

3. Seabiscuit (2003) Based on the true story of Seabiscuit, it tells of a too small horse with a too big jockey, an old cowboy trainer, and a car salesman owner defeating the odds and raising the hopes of a nation in the depression of the thirties. Ten horses shared the role of Seabiscuit and not one of them had an Equity card.

4. Phar Lap (1983) Get your hankies out for this true rags-to-riches tale of a horse winning the hearts of a nation during the great depression. This time though, it’s the turn of Australia to be cheered up. Overcoming increasing handicapping weights, Phar Lap, wins 37 races including the renowned Melbourne Cup. Not a happy-ever-after ending but a great romp until the final curtain falls.

5. Black Gold (1947) In this everyday tale of horseracing folk, a boy and his horse are adopted by a kind Indian man (Anthony Quinn) and his wife after the boy’s father is murdered by smugglers. The couple breed their mare to the boy’s horse, fall in with a shady manager, end up losing the mare to him, discover oil on their land and win the Kentucky Derby. Totally believable in every way.

6. Let It Ride (1989) Richard Dreyfuss plays an amiable compulsive gambler named Trotter (yes Trotter). He promises his wife that his days at the races are over, then goes out the very next weekend and bets his last fifty dollars on a sure thing – and wins. Feeling that he can’t lose, he lets his winnings ride picking winner after winner. So, does he come out on top? You need to watch the movie but let’s just say that his wife…

7. Shergar (1999) Ian Holm and Mickey Rourke star in this movie which tells the story of Shergar, the champion racehorse who was stolen by IRA terrorists and never seen again. Of course Hollywood prefers a happy ending to the truth, so in the film version of Shergar’s tragic tale the horse is rescued by a young orphan boy and they both live happily ever after.

8. Hidalgo (2004) A rip-roaring tale following the true story of a turn of the century Pony Express rider and his Mustang as they race against the finest Arabian horses in a 3,300 mile race across the deserts of Arabia. The film is full of stunning scenery and magnificent cinematography.

9. Secretariat (2010) Made by Disney this film tells the story of one of the greatest American race horses of our time. It centers on the story of Secretariat’s female owner, Penny Chenery, as she deals with dodgy dealing, death, and tax bills and her struggle to win the Triple Crown, setting a new record for the 1973 Kentucky Derby along the way. A record Secretariat still holds to this day.

10. Champions (1983) The true story of jockey Bob Champion and his horse Aldaniti, starring John Hurt as Champion. Bob famously beat cancer and went on to win the 1981 Grand National. The climax of the film includes live footage of the actual 1983 Grand National. Unfortunately it also includes footage of Royal Mail, the horse that was third to Aldaniti, falling at Becher’s Brook two years later.