Having been not much more than a baby in 1973, the tale of Secretariat, the American thoroughbred who was the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years, was not one I was familiar with.

So I entered the cinema for the preview of this Walt Disney movie with few expectations — and I loved it.

Secretariat is your traditional “overcoming the odds” and “plucky underdog” film for a number of reasons.

Owner Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) must overcome the odds of being a woman in a man’s world, of trying to salvage her father’s racing yard, which has hit hard times and juggle her life as a mother, wife and racehorse breeder.

“Big Red” on the other hand is by Bold Ruler out of a Princequillo mare, so is bred to be fast but might not stay the distance.

And the trainer, Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), has a lot to prove, having left racing after a string of failures.

Despite knowing the outcome of all the races, the film posters rather give that away, the race scenes are edge of the seat stuff.

I rode every furlong with jockey Ron Turcotte.

And OK, this being Disney and not The Racing Channel, there is a bit of sugary sentiment — and the friction between Big Red and his rival Sham is a bit silly — but this really is a feel-good movie and one for all the family.

Secretariat is released on 3 December

View the trailer