A film about the Welsh Grand National winner Dream Alliance is receiving rave reviews.
Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance, which was released on 17 April, has been described by the Telegraph as “a surefire winner”.
Louise Osmond’s 90min documentary tells how Jan Vokes, a cleaner from Cefn Fforest in South Wales, bred Dream Alliance out of a mare who cost £350, and raised him on a tiny allotment.
Jan and her husband Brian formed a syndicate of 20-odd neighbours and friends, who paid £10 per week each to share in the chestnut gelding.
Dream Alliance was sent to trainer Philip Hobbs’ Somerset yard and won twice over hurdles before going chasing. He finished second to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman in the Hennessy at Newbury in 2007, but subsequently suffered a bad tendon injury in a race at Aintree in 2008.
His owners decided to raise the £20,000 for Dream Alliance to have stem cell treatment, which proved successful, and the horse memorably went on to take the 2009 Welsh Grand National at Chepstow under jockey Tom O’Brien.
Dream Alliance ran in the 2010 Grand National at Aintree, but was pulled up. He now spends his days in retirement in Somerset.
Although Dream Alliance’s dam Rewbell is no longer alive, Jan Vokes has another mare who is due to foal this month.
Dark Horse won the Audience Award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the US earlier this year and is a collaboration between Channel 4 and Ffilm Cymru Wales.
The film features interviews with many members of the Dream Alliance Syndicate, and the team at Philip Hobbs’ Minehead yard, as well as clips of the horse racing and at home.