Production has begun on a screen adaptation on the life of Seabiscuit, the undersized racehorse, who despite all odds went on to become a champion in the 1930s.

The movie is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit: Three men and a racehorse.

It stars several big Hollywood names including Spider-Man star, Tobey Maguire, as the horse’s half-blind jockey Red Pollard and Jeff Bridges as Seabiscuit’s owner, Charles Howard, a self-made auto-tycoon.Chris Cooper (American Beauty) plays the trainer, Tom Smith, a “down-on-his-luck” cowboy.

Director Gary Ross explains: “This is a true-life fairytale. Seabiscuit was a real outsider who had lost 50 races. Red Pollard was a second-tier jockey, who had to make a living in the boxing ring in order to earn enough money to buy food. Charles Howard was a car dealer and Tom Smith had never trained a winning horse.

“Together they turned Seabiscuit into a champion and captured the heart of the nation.”

There are six Thoroughbreds playing the part of Seabiscuit and another six to play War Admiral, one of his arch rivals on the racetrack.Leading Hollywood wrangler, Rusty Hendrickson, is the expert in charge of equine training.

“All the horses were chosen for their soundness and ability to be trained,” said Deborah Wuliger from the production office.

“Tobey has been training intensely to play the part of a jockey. He’s dropped more than 20lbs and works with a personal trainer daily to get into riding condition.”

Racing scenes will be filmed at top tracks across the US, including Santa Anita Park, Seabiscuit’s home tack in Los Angeles.

The Keeneland track in Lexington will double for the Pimlico track, the site of the legendary showdown between Seabiscuit and War Admiral.

Hall of Fame jockey, Chris McCarron, is the film’s racing consultant. He retired from the sport earlier in the year after a 28-year career that included six Triple Crown races and nine Breeder’s Cups. Another Hallof Fame jockey, Gary Stevens, will also appear in the film.

The film is scheduled to due to be released across the USA in July 2003, and in Britain later.

Click here to purchase Seabiscuit: Three men and a racehorse from Amazon.co.uk