TIFF Docs

Dark Horse

Louise Osmond

Filmmaker Louise Osmond follows the story of a group of friends and neighbours in a small Welsh town who pool their modest resources to invest in a racehorse they dub Dream Alliance, and soon find themselves breaking social barriers by competing against some of the wealthiest horse owners in the UK.

Dark Horse is a story of dreams, determination, and class consciousness in the world of horse racing. In the beleaguered former coal town of Cefn Fforest, South Wales, a middle-aged barmaid named Jan Vokes rallies a syndicate of friends to pool their modest resources into breeding and raising a racehorse they call Dream Alliance. Through many narrative twists and turns, Dream Alliance shows unexpected promise, and the Welsh townsfolk find themselves breaking social barriers by competing against wealthy horse owners.

Filmmaker Louise Osmond elicits warm and funny interviews from the participants, drawing out recollections on a chain of events that lasted several years starting in 2000. She illustrates their storytelling with well-chosen archival footage and artful re-enactments. Cinematographer Benjamin Kracun captures the horses so beautifully you'll want to reach out and touch them.

Dark Horse's narrative feels almost like a caper film as the plucky Vokes pulls together a team that includes her husband, nicknamed Daisy, and local tax advisor Howard Davies. They assemble a syndicate of contributors paying £10 per week for the costs of the horse's caretaking and training.

The gamble is the furthest thing from a sure bet, requiring years of perseverance through a multitude of factors outside of the stakeholders' control. As the saying goes, "if you want to make small fortune in horse racing, start with a large fortune." But for the team behind Dream Alliance, it's not all about money. In the words of one backer: "Dream took us to places you couldn't even imagine."

location_on Scotiabank 11

verified_user Industry

location_on TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

theaters Regular

location_on The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

theaters Regular