A Guide to the Classic Horse Racing Movies and Their Impact on the Sport

There’s no denying that horse racing is an exciting sport that brings a unique blend of competition, athleticism, and strategy to the track. From the excitement of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in America to the great UK horse race meetings – it’s hard not to be mesmerised by these majestic creatures pushing themselves for glory against their rivals. On the flip side, horse racing has also provided ample source materials for some classic movies over the years, helping bring this thrilling sport into even more homes worldwide. 

In this guide, we will take you through some of cinema’s greatest equestrian-related films, exploring their influence on actual race days and giving you an overview of each film. So, enjoy your seats at the cinematic paddock, and prepare to look at what makes these great horse-racing-based films so special! 

Introducing Horse Racing Movies – A Brief History and Overview

Horse racing has been part of reality for millennia, but the first domesticated horse only appeared approximately 6000 years ago. There’s no denying that if technology had been around back then, these horses would have been on the big screen much sooner.

Then again, horses made their debut in a 1872 stop motion picture titled “the galloping horse.” Since then, we have seen horses featured in old western films, war films, family dramas and animation films. 

The Top 10 Classic Horse Racing Movies and Their Impact on the Sport

Let’s look at a list of the top 10 classic horse racing movies and the impact they have had on sports.

 1. Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit is a classic horse racing movie that is inspiring as well. This film inspired Americans and gave them something to believe in during the difficult social and economic times of the great depression. This film preaches will, passion, hard work, and drive. 

2. Secretariat 

Secretariat is an inspirational film that provided a lot of hope during a time when America was faced with war and political scandal. This true-life film also inspired women’s empowerment and followed the story of a horse with many wins. 

3. Phar Lap

This 1983 film is another real-life film that follows an Australian racehorse named Phar Lap. This touching story is about the death of Phar Lap, who was a popular racehorse. It was discovered that Phar Lap had an extra-large heart; however, it was speculated that the mafia had a role in his death due to arsenic found in his body during his autopsy. Overall, this is a touching story. 

4. Dreamer 

This film is about rescuing and rehabilitating a horse with a broken leg. This film follows the relationship between humans and horses and is an overall inspiring tale of second chances. 

5. The Black Stallion 

This 1979 film is exciting and emotional as it tracks the relationship between a boy and a horse. This film also dives into the competitiveness of horse racing.

6. Hidalgo 

This is considered a classic film about real-life Frank Hopkins and his horse Hidalgo. This film deals with challenges faced by riders during competition. 

7. Racing Stripes

This is a fantasy-based animation about a zebra who dreams of racing with thoroughbreds. 

8. The Killing

This film is based around the racetrack. This film is more of a thrilling tale of criminal activity around the racetrack.

9. Kentucky 

This film briefly touches on the history of the bluegrass state and man’s connection to horses. 

10. Boots Malone 

This tale is something that is both inspirational and inspiring about a jockey whose life completely turns around after an encounter with a young kid.

The Social and Cultural Effect of Horse Racing Movies

Most horse racing movies are inspirational and motivating, which is how they affect the viewer. They also inspire a love for horse racing and encourage people to romanticise the sport. 

How To Find the Best Horse Racing Films

If you want to watch the best horse racing films, we suggest starting with the films listed in this article. These are classics, and you can never go wrong with any of them.


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