World’s Best Horse Racing Movies & Films of All TimeStories
Horse racing is a unique sport popular around the globe. It’s especially popular among punters who see great opportunities from the outcomes of popular horse racing events. It’s probably the excitement that this equestrian performance sport brings that has inspired many screenwriters and directors to develop great horse racing movies.
Horse race movies promise excellent fun, although not all are focused on one thing. For instance, we have horse race movies where the gambling aspect of this activity plays the prominent role. On the other hand, we have pure sport drama movies that talk about the lives of jockeys and their horses. Since we don’t know what exactly you are looking for, we’ve created this list of best horse racing movies and films of all time that belong to different genres.
If you like movies based on true stories, you should give Secretariat a chance. This 2010 horse racing movie belongs to the drama genre. The story revolves around Secretariat, a Thoroughbred racehorse who won the Triple Crown back in 1973. In this movie, viewers will also enjoy the performance of top actors like John Malkovich and Diane Lane.
Of course, you should expect exciting racing scenes, but the best parts are where the trainer and the new owner of the stables are training and taking care of the beautiful horse. According to the critics, this movie gives us a new light on horse racing as a sports activity mainly managed by men in the 1970s.
Dream Horse (2020)
It seems that Dream Alliance, the Thoroughbred racehorse from Wales, has inspired the screenwriters of not one but two movies. The first one is from 2015, and it’s actually a documentary by Louise Osmond. The one from 2020, known as Dream Horse, is a sports comedy-drama film. It’s a light-hearted movie that displays many ups and downs that are typical for this world.
It has a story that turns ordinary people into champions simply by believing that they can accomplish something together. So, have a chance to watch a film based on the true story of Dream Alliance. A bartender purchases the horse and gets help from the local community to take care of it. In the end, Dream Alliance manages to go on a race in the Welsh Grand National, which it won in 2009.
Fans of sports films can’t go wrong with Seabiscuit even if they are not looking specifically for a horse race movie. The movie is based on a non-fiction book about Seabiscuit, one of the most famous racehorses in the United States in the 1930s.
Seabiscuit became the most valuable racehorse in the 1930s after defeating the 1937 Triple Crown winner (War Admiral). What’s interesting is that it was a small but tough horse. This underdog provided hope to millions of Americans affected by the Great Depression. Viewers can enjoy a stellar performance by Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Elizabeth Banks and a few adrenaline-raising scenes.
The Cup (2011)
This list of horse race movies includes non-American titles too. After all, we are talking about the world’s best horse racing movies. The Cup was released in 2011 with a story about a specific race that took place in 2002. This is an Australian film inspired by the 2002 Melbourne Cup race.
The Melbourne Cup is by far the most famous Thoroughbred horse race in the land down under. It’s been active for more than 160 years now. Fans have seen many exciting races, but according to many historians and horse racing enthusiasts, the one in 2011 was the most dramatic the competition has seen.
So, this is a biographical film about Dermot Weld, the world-renowned Irish horse trainer, Damien Oliver, the Australian jockey, and Media Puzzle, their horse. One of the things that made this victory special for Damien was the fact that his brother died a week before after falling from his horse.
Racing Luck (1935)
There’s no doubt that people have been impressed by racehorses and horse racing for many decades. The same goes for the gambling activities associated with these things. So, it’s no surprise that there’s a good horse racing movie from the 1930s on this list too.
Even back then, there was foul play in some of the races, and this is basically the central theme of this film. The racehorse owner Dan is banned from the racetracks because the authorities have found illegal substances in his horse’s blood. However, it was his rival who did this. You can see a few fun races (given that this movie was filmed with old technology) and many action scenes. This is a perfect option for those who prefer crime/action/adventure movies.
To be honest, it’s the non-fictional horse race movies that can help you feel the real thrill of this sporting activity. Champions, the 1984 movie that comes from the United Kingdom, is an excellent example. It has a fantastic cast that features established actors like John Hurt, Edward Woodward, and Jan Francis. We should also mention that this is an award-winning release (Standard British Film Awards which was also nominated for the Golden Bear Award.
So, the story revolves around Robert Bob Champion, an English ex-jump jockey. He had a promising career, and right when the fans expected he could win a major competition, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Bob received therapy that included a cocktail of medications that has affected other aspects of his health. In the end, he had surgery too. But this didn’t make Bob Champion end his career. On the contrary, in the following year, he managed to win the 1981 Grand National with Aldaniti. Watch this movie if you are looking for a feel-good story.
Murphy’s Stroke (1980)
A movie about the Irish betting syndicate that involves racehorses? What more can we ask for, especially when looking for thrilling titles. On top of that, we have Pierce Brosnan in one of the leading roles.
The plot includes a few Irish businessmen that have created a betting syndicate. They were involved in illegal horse race betting activities. Their scheme was simple – place multiple small bets to avoid suspicion and ensure that the horse they’ve chosen will win the race. Once again, you have a chance to watch a movie based on something that really happened in the past. Despite its dark theme, the film is quite fun with old but good jokes. Don’t forget that the crucial horse for this scheme was Gay Future.
Ride Like a Girl (2019)
From Australia comes another high-quality horse racing movie. This is a biographical sports drama movie about a woman who has dreamed about winning the Melbourne Cup since she was just a kid. Michelle Payne won her first notable race in 2009. She is also the only female jockey who has won the Melbourne Cup in 2015.
All these things and her personal struggles are portrayed very well in the Ride Like a Girl movie. We should also note that Payne suffered a serious injury at a race in Sandown Racecourse in Melbourne right after she started her career. She bruised her brain after breaking her skull. Even though the recovery process was painful and prolonged, this woman never stopped thinking about racing. Don’t forget that Teresa Palmer (known for Hacksaw Ridge and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) plays Michelle Payne. Overall, this is a must-watch horse racing movie.
If you are prepared for some tragic moments on the big screen, you may want to check this TV film from the US. As the name suggests, this is a race horse movie, meaning the jockey comes in second place.
Ruffian was a Thoroughbred racehorse that started racing when it was two years old. The owners had high hopes because Ruffian was a perfect example of a racehorse in terms of constitution. In 1974, it won the American Champion Two-Year-Old Filly award. In 1975, Ruffian won the 4th US Triple Tiara Champion and American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly. It’s worth mentioning that this horse also had a record of ten wins in a row.
Sadly, Ruffian collapsed and died in 1975 during a race in Belmont Park. This was her eleventh race in which she faced the Kentucky Derby winner.
50 to 1 (2014)
50 to 1 deserves a place among the world’s best horse racing movies for more than one reason. First, it’s a true story that includes Mine That Bird. This undersized thoroughbred racehorse caused one of the biggest upsets in horse racing ever. Mine That Bird was slightly smaller than regular racehorses, but it turned out that size doesn’t matter in its case.
This horse won several races in 2008 and 2009, including the Silver Deputy Stakes, Swynford Stakes, and Grey Stakes. Yet, the most crucial win was at the Kentucky Derby in 2009. That’s why the central part of the 50 to 1 movie is focused on this race. Of course, the title reveals the odds given to this “dark horse” before the race. If you fancy slow-moving films with seasoned actors like Skeet Ulrich and Christian Kane, then you should give this title a try.