Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dark Horse

Film Review by Kam Williams

Against-the-Odds Documentary Recounts How Working-Class Welshmen Bred a Successful Racehorse.

In 2000, Jan Vokes was working as barmaid in a pub when she got the idea of raising a racehorse from a customer. So, she and her husband bought an injured, ill-tempered mare for a song before breeding it with a bona fide thoroughbred.

A foal was born in 2001, and they invited locals from their Welsh coal mining town to invest in the colt, divvying up ownership among 30 partners asked to contribute 10 pounds per week for training and maintenance. After getting off to a shaky start, Dream Alliance won his fourth race and he went on to enjoy a successful career, peaking in 2009 when he prevailed in the Welsh Grand National, a steeplechase featuring 22 fences over a course of 3 miles.
By the time the unlikely champion retired several years later, the investors had realized a profit of 1,430 pounds apiece. That improbable feat is recounted in entertaining fashion in Dark Horse, an inspirational documentary directed by Louise Ormond (Deep Water). 
The film chronicles not only Dream Alliance's historic ascent, including a recovery from a near-fatal accident en route to fame, but the sheer delight taken by its working-class owners as they rub elbows with their relatively-wealthy colleagues residing in the realm of Sport of Kings. 
An exhilarating tribute to an overachieving underdog that turned a barmaid's fanciful dream into a reality.

Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated PG for mature themes and mild epithets
Running time: 85 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

To see a trailer for Dark Horse, visit:

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