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”People spend loads of money and pay people to help their horses go well fast”

A fair synopsis of the recently released 4 part documentary from Lorton Entertainment & Equine Productions called Horsepower.

Then again, perhaps not. This piece is so much more than that. Yes there’s plenty of Royal Ascot glamour and race horse owners flying in on helicopters, but the stars of the show are the people and the horses. To be more specific, the connection between the two.

Andrew Balding racehorse trainer, Oisin Murphy 2 time (Will he make it 3?!) champion jockey, Anna Lisa Balding Park house legend are the three main stars of the show but they couldn’t be even close to that without the likes Kameko, Alcohol Free, Berkshire Shadow and many many more.

Horsepower shares a wonderful array of characters, giving an in-depth yet accessible look into the world of training race horses. Whether it’s Jeff Smith the race horse owner who has consistently supported Andrew and Park House stables since taking over from his father in 2003, Marie who left France to follow her dream of being amongst the best race horses and trainers in the world or Geoff (Geoffrey) the Park House veteran of over 50years who tragically lost his son at a young age who well, I won’t spoil it, but something happens to put a smile on his face.

I could pull out multiple examples of their brilliant relationship but there were two pieces for me that exemplified the authenticity and integrity of Oisin & Andrew, two of the main protagonists.

Following his challenges with alcohol in the early part of his career, Oisin talks so openly and honestly about not being able to remember the last day he went without having a drink. The inclusion and reference to his therapy sessions is a lovely touch. We can certainly relate to this. More needs to be done around therapy being a very positive part off peoples lives and should be seen as strengthening our characters and nothing else.

We’ve mentioned before how much of a supporter of therapy we are and there shouldn’t be a stigma set against the ‘Mind gym’ just as there isn’t with the ‘Body gym’. If a champion jockey can talk about it, then it must be useful right?!

Then Andrew spending time with his father, Ian. Ian is challenged by Alzheimer’s. As he sits atop his horse with Andrew on the ground below him, they reminisce majestically about Ian’s 1971 Derby winner Mill Reef. As they playful discuss Ian’s reaction should Andrew manage to win the Derby, it’s twinged with sadness as Ian admits his memory isn’t what it used to be. His daughter Claire (Balding) had just been born and Andrew was still to arrive. Ian being sure they were both present for the magic moment.

For me, one of the most poignant moments of the whole documentary comes when discussing his reaction should Andrew win the Derby as Ian says ” Well, of course I’d be very proud of you” with Andrew joking ”Well he hasn’t forgotten he’s won the Derby, that’s for sure”.

A wholly authentic father son moment.

And DO NOT get me started on how incredible Anna Lisa Balding is. Head of Operations in title but in reality; the boss, the rock, the leader, the inspiration to so many at Park-house stables not least Andrew himself.

I took a lot from the whole documentary, but the connections between people and between people and animal are unrivalled. Supporting each other at our highest and lowest is equally as important. Regardless whether you’re a premier league football club owner, and mid twenties champion jockey, a South Sudanese refugee or a multimillionaire race horse owner. We all need that source of comfort, trust and companionship whoever we are.

The creators have invested hours and hours ensuring these relationships are shown clearly and authentically. They’ve nailed it.

Let’s hope there’s a second series.

Take care, watch Horsepower and Speak Easy