Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse is based on a true story and following a period of lockdown and pandemic blues, it gallops into cinemas on 4th June.
The film tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely racehorse bred by small-town bartender Jan Vokes (played by Toni Collette).
With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbours to chip in their meagre earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites.
Their investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks and becomes a beacon of hope in their struggling community.
Co-producer Kasia Malipan introduced the filmmaking team to The Devil’s Horsemen, a family-run firm that’s been providing horses for film and TV productions for more than 30 years. The company’s numerous credits include Game of Thrones, War & Peace and Wonder Woman.
Their involvement was crucial, says producer Tracy O’Riordan:
“Having worked with horses on a previous film, I knew the importance of bringing in an expert team.
The Devil’s Horsemen were able to help us cast horses with the right temperament and then train them with a practical understanding of what staging the races would entail, while always keeping animal and crew safety paramount.”
Filming took place at the famed British racecourses of Chepstow and Newbury, with six shooting days spread out over 15 days to allow the horses downtime between their days on camera.
In addition, three days of actual races were shot using a smaller documentary-style unit.
The team calculated how far each horse was able to safely run, how many fences it would be able to jump and how long it would need to rest on any given day.
In total, 39 horses were used in the production. These consist of 21 Thoroughbreds, 12 hunters, three ponies, one foal, one colt and one actor horse to play Rewbell, the mare that Jan buys to breed.
Seven horses were required just to play Dream: three racehorses, two hunters (who did the bulk of the acting), plus the foal and colt.
The filmmakers also took advantage of the horses’ different capabilities to be able to shoot Dream at various stages of the races.
As Lyn notes: “When the horse playing Dream needed to pull away from the pack, we’d bring out a faster Dream from the stables to be sure he’d win the race.”
Inevitably, the human cast formed some deep connections with their equine colleagues. Collette in particular felt a special kinship with Bo, one of the main horses that play Dream.
“There was something going on between him and Toni,” Lyn says. “He was definitely in tune with her. When she was excited and agitated, so was he, and when her character was a bit maudlin and grieving, so was he.”
Dream Horse is a classic come-from-behind underdog sports movie writ large, says Lyn, who hopes audiences choose to see the film in theatres.
“Undoubtedly, the excitement of the racing is best experienced on the big screen,” he explains.
“Experiencing the action in the midst of powerful and athletic horses with full immersive sound will have audiences losing themselves in the thrill of a big sporting occasion.”
Euros also adds: It’s the heart-warming story of an unlikely hero, which celebrates the ancient bond between horse and human. This movie has all the thrills and excitement of a great sporting movie.’’
Dream Horse releases in cinemas from 4th June.
Listen to our interview with Euros Lyn here: