Dream Horse (4 stars)

Dream Horse

The remarkable and heartwarming story of a Welsh racing syndicate is brought winningly to the screen

The British are particularly good at working class triumph-against-the-odds movies, and Euros Lyn's Dream Horse is a fine example. Based on a true story that's already inspired the 2015 award-winning documentary Dark Horse, this tale of a Welsh syndicate that bred a champion racehorse hits all the right notes from the moment it sets off.

Toni Collette, as superb as ever, plays Jan Vokes. Jan lives in a small town in the Welsh Valleys, tends to her elderly parents and works two jobs – in a supermarket and bar – to support her arthritic husband Brian (Owen Teale from Game of Thrones). Then she overhears accountant Howard (Damian Lewis) boasting about his exploits in a racing syndicate.

Inspired, Jan uses her savings to buy a mare, which – one trip to a stud farm later – gives birth to a foal. In need of financial support, Jan petitions townsfolk, including the sceptical Howard, to join her in a syndicate. Naming the young horse 'Dream Alliance', so begins a long journey as they find a willing trainer to take on their steed and prepare him to race.

The film's Welsh-born director Lyn – best known for his work in TV, including Happy Valley, Doctor Who and His Dark Materials – strikes a fine balance between salt-of-the-earth humour, emotion and fist-pumping celebration in a way that feels organic and unforced. The Dream Alliance story is a remarkable one, and Lyn and screenwriter Neil McKay (a BAFTA winner for TV's See No Evil: The Moors Murders and a nominee for Appropriate Adult) condense and convey it with real aplomb.

Like the recent Fisherman's Friends or genre staple The Full Monty, there's a heartfelt quality to Dream Horse. Exploring the power of friendship and community, it's also liable to touch anyone who has ever felt a bond with an animal. And with the racing sequences expertly shot, you'll be rooting for it all the way into the home straight.

Available to watch in cinemas from Fri 4 Jun.

Dream Horse

  • 4 stars
  • 2020
  • US / UK
  • 1h 53min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Euros Lyn
  • Cast: Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Owen Teale, Joanna Page, Karl Johnson, Steffan Rhodri, Anthony O'Donnell, Nicholas Farrell, Siân Phillips

A cleaner and bartender, Jan (Toni Collette) decides to breed a race horse, but when it starts winning, she and her supportive community have to face the race horsing elite.