Dark Horse

4 Stars

Dark Horse is the kind of story that seems primed for a future inspirational sports-related Disney film in a few years. In 2000, bartender Janet Vokes and tax advisor Howard Davies joined together to breed a racehorse. After purchasing a mare for a few hundred pounds with the intention of running it in races, they formed a collective with a slew of other Welsh villagers to help pay for the general upkeep and hidden costs of a racing horse.

The horse, Dream Alliance, quickly became a local celebrity. His periodic flairs of temper endeared him to the village. If anything, his time as a racing horse seems almost incidental at some points in the documentary, at least for many of the film’s participants. It’s not that the film is long; at 85 minutes, the film actually moves quickly enough that some more time could be spent on the locals. The actual story, which involves Dream Alliance’s successes and track record for serious injuries, doesn’t require more attention; the film’s less about the horse itself and more about the way Dream Alliance impacted this community.

There’s even a bit of subversive joy in watching the locals take on the world of British racing, with its emphasis on affluence and thoroughbreds. Watching these locals enter the world while remaining themselves is worthy of celebration, and it makes this documentary irresistible.

Dark Horse • Rating: PG (for some mild thematic elements and language) • Runtime: 85 minutes • Genre: Documentary • Director: Louise Osmond • Writer: Louise Osmond • Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

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