On The Scene: ‘Dark Horse’ New York Premiere

Dark Horse, a Sundance Film Festival winner for Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary, premiered at Regal Union Square last night amid much excitement.

For those not in the know, Dark Horse is a documentary detailing the work of a small Welsh town to collectively breed and own a racehorse that made it all the way to winning the Welsh National before retiring.

On the red carpet the woman who spearheaded the effort was there with her husband and the director of the film. Jan and Brian Vokes and director Louise Osmond were all delighted to answer a few questions.

How much do you think people actually need to know about horse racing to understand the film? I’m going in with no prior knowledge. 

Louise: Zero. Hopefully zero.

Brian: We didn’t know anything until we got that horse. We’d always had horses, but not thoroughbred horses.

Jan: It’s more about the horse, and the journey we took. It’s just set in a racing environment.

Louise: So you’ll be the test of that!

Brian: All statistics say he could never have done what he’d done.

I’m excited to see the film. You keep billing it as a David and Goliath story, this classic underdog story- can you go into that more?

Louise: Basically, I suppose to put it in its simplest form…at the top, Jan was working as a barmaid in a kind of blue-collar working men’s club, and doing another job in the afternoon. She had bred whippers and pigeons and now wanted a racehorse. And it’s just- I mean, the odds against the odds against the odds of that even being like a sensible idea to consider, once again, the odds of that succeeding must have been like a zillion to one. And yet Jan is Jan.

Brian: We knew we could breed her, we’d already bred her.

Louise: Perhaps, I’m exaggerating to say it was impossible-

Jan: No, no. Because there are people who have spent millions, and never won a big race. So all the odds were against us.

Louise: And obviously the world that she’s entering, it’s literally the sport of kings. The Queen’s- to even produce a racehorse, that’d be great. And also, even if they managed to get a horse to the track, only one percent of horses ever win a race.

And how did you originally find this?

Brian: His real name is Pegasus. (the horse)

Louise: I found this looking for something else actually. I was trying to find something that could be a sort of Rocky type horse, and then I found this, which is obviously much, much more human and kind of deep and moving. There’s a story. There was a while before I had even met Brian and Jan, they were just on paper. And then…these two turned up. It’s like that Jaws moment.

Brian: When she’d seen us, she must have thought, it’s a bunch of hillbillies coming.

Louise: No, it was like all Christmases had come at once! I was like, he has no teeth! Of course, he does have them- he’s missing four…

(everyone laughing)

Louise: Just remember to enjoy, please enjoy. Tell us whether you understand.

A couple hours later, a certain reporter was debating the merits of buying a share in a racehorse.

The evening was presented by the Thoroughbred Stock Exchange and a party followed at The Headless Horseman where guests drankDark Horse wine (of course). The film hits theaters this Friday.


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