DARK HORSE, winner of the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, is the heartwarming real-life fairy-tale about how a Welsh barmaid from a workingman’s pub in a poor coal-mining town decided to breed a racehorse and take on the sport of kings.
Jan Vokes knew nothing whatsoever about horse-racing, but had bred birds and dogs—so why not a racehorse? She convinced pub customer Howard Davies to join her in breeding a racehorse. Howard, who had recently lost money on his own racehorse venture, took some convincing, but as Brian, Janet’s toothless ex-miner husband says, “When Janet sets her mind to something, she won’t take no for an answer.”
They gather together a group of locals—retirees, small businessmen, shopkeepers, barflies and the like—who each agree to pitch in 10 pounds a week. They purchase an aging thoroughbred brood mare and find the most inexpensive stud. They raise their foal on a hillside made of slag from the coal mine and nurture it to maturity, treating it not as a business opportunity but as a member of their family. Reflecting their pride and flights of fancy, they name their horse Dream Alliance.
Then they entered the doubting world of millionaires and aristocracy, the racing elite. Even Dream Alliance’s trainers considered their blind faith little more than an eccentric lark until…the horse started winning.
Louise Osmond’s documentary celebrates the triumph of the underdog, and offers a message of empowerment aimed at anyone who has ever felt locked out of a pursuit due to lack of money or the right background. It is a warm, winning, inspiring trifecta full of elation, heartbreak, and hope. DARK HORSE is the story of a working-class hero racehorse and the alliance of 30 endearingly oddball Welsh men and women whose hopes and pride rode upon him, ordinary people pursuing dreams that really do come true.
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