These steeplechasing sequences were filmed over six intensive days on three different racetracks. Welfare was paramount. The height of the fences was lowered, the horses given rest days and weather and ground conditions strictly monitored.
“We cast 30 horses to play 10 on screen and we kept them in a rotation so they never got tired; we only ever shot stretches of two furlongs (about 200 metres) at a time. The jockeys had to rehearse each section of the race but not on horseback. They’d line up in formation on foot and we’d do three or four rehearsals before filming.”
Filmgoers might think that the gelding appears surprisingly fresh after finishing his legendary win. Lyn reveals the reason why. “When the horse playing Dream needed to accelerate away from the pack, we did a switcheroo and brought out another chestnut from the stables to be sure that with fresh legs he’d win as per the script.”
In recent months this film has garnered some excellent reviews, even from the most cynical critics. “A well-cast, artfully handled effort that exercises sufficient restraint to really earn its requisite laughter and tears. Likely to have broad appeal,” according to Variety magazine.
“The movie may be a bit schmaltzy but I couldn’t help enjoying it: like Chariots of Fire, only with horses,” said The Guardian. “This true story of a Welsh village that bought a racehorse is a winner.”
Maybe it’s a little too feel good for some, but one thing all viewers can be sure of is that ‘Dream Horse’ is not a film which will give them nightmares.
REAL DREAM ALLIANCE
The real Dream Alliance, meanwhile, is living a happy life after racing. By Bien Bien out of Rewbell, Dream Alliance was born on 23 March 2001. Ridden by Tom O’Brien, he won the 2009 Welsh National by three-quarters of a length. He also competed in the 2010 Grand National but was pulled up after the seventh fence. He was diagnosed with a lung condition. He ran in seven more races but didn’t place.
Overall, he won £138,646 in prize money. After all training and veterinary expenses were paid, including his surgery costs, the 23 syndicate members each obtained a profit of £1,430.
Dream retired in 2012 and lives in Somerset after being adopted by his stable girl. It was a formal adoption process overseen by the British Horseracing Authority, which provided the opportunity for him to be free from racing and enjoy a life with other horses. The syndicate allowed his adoption as the facilities offered were way ahead of anything its members could provide locally.
In the next edition of Equestrian Life’s Horses & Movies series: The Black Stallion (1979). EQ
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