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article imageReview: ‘Dark Horse’ is a heartwarming tale of underdogs with 2 to 4 legs Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 20, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Dark Horse’ chronicles the life of a racehorse that led a working-class community to some of the UK’s most prestigious racing events.
It likely comes as no surprise that participating in certain sports is often also a sign of class. The more expensive the equipment, ample the accessories and demanding the time commitment, the equally less likely it is for a lower class person to partake. Greyhounds have long been referred to as “the poor man’s racehorse” because actual ponies are so costly. However in Dark Horse, a small Welsh community bands together to prove a working-class horse can make its mark in the world of competitive racing.
The former mining village in South Wales was one of many industrial towns in the area to see hard times after the mines were closed. But a conversation overheard in a local pub gives the establishment’s server, Jan, a brilliant and risky idea: breed a racehorse and enter it into competition. Posting a sign in the bar, they needed 30 participants willing to contribute £10 per week to cover expenses. When they reached quorum, Jan bought a thoroughbred mare with a poor racing record, found a suitable stud and the collective was eventually the proud owners of beautiful fowl. With adequate training, “Dream Alliance” was finally race-ready — the only question left to answer was is he a winner?
This is a classic “David and Goliath” story, in which Dream Alliance is the obvious underdog; however, he’s not alone as his blue-collar guardians face comparative scrutiny and discrimination in the owners’ boxes as they challenge the boundaries set by the UK’s social elite. Few believed either would make it in the big leagues, as exemplified by the announcer who barely seemed to know the horse’s name. The collective’s commitment to Dream in spite of facing such prejudices since the beginning is astounding and undoubtedly one of the elements that makes their story so powerful — they repeatedly encounter obstacles and choose to continue in spite of the odds being stacked against them.
The documentary recounts the formation of the collective through a number of key voices who recall their inspiration for participating and the emotional journey their involvement initiated. From believing Jan is crazy to pursue such a risky venture to cherishing the opportunity to have been a part of its realization, those interviewed are still so obviously taken with the experience. Similarly, Dream’s life is chronicled from conception to retirement and the many significant events in between, including life-threatening injury and a number of miracles. The aptly named horse assumed the spirit of the community that raised him and made them proud to the very end.
This isn’t exactly a Flicka or War Horse story, but it’s heartwarming and may definitely bring tears to viewers’ eyes.
Director: Louise Osmond
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