Film director Euros Lyn teams up with screenwriter Neil McKay to bring to the silver screen the true story of Jan Vokes and her dream to breed and raise a horse worthy to race in the big money-making championships in Dream Horse. It's a wild dream for sure because initially Jan had no money, no experience and no horse.
In real-life, the horse known as Dream Alliance had its story told in a documentary Dark Horse from filmmakers Louise Osmond and Judith Dawson in 2015 that screened at the Sundance Film Festival. They told of Dream's step-by-step amazing journey to the winner's circle. Producer Katherine Butler heard about the story through these fellow filmmakers.
Butler learned that Dream was born in 2001 and raised in the small Welsh village of
Cefn Fforest, Caerphilly, and made headlines not only in Wales, but all across the U.K. The drama of this true story was a narrative made for the silver screen and Butler jumped on it. She contacts the real-life players of the storyline, Jan Vokes, Brian Vokes, Howard Davies and Angela Davies to inquire if they'd be open to making a feature film of their incredible experience. Butler said, "I was always really mindful of wanting them to come on the whole journey with us." They agreed.
Butler recalls, "At the first meeting with the 'syndicate' members (Vokes and Davies) McKay and myself were impressed with their passion for and the joy in the horse. They really trusted Neil to represent their story." Continuing, "He [Neil] wanted to absorb their world and understand why this was so important for them." And, rightly so! It appears that he got it right, as did the exceptional actors who were chosen to relate the story to their countrymen. Thanks to Bleecker Street Films distribution rights to the U.S. audiences, they showcase a truly inspirational story of triumph and an extraordinary leap of faith in Dream Horse.
In the small village of Cefn Fforest in South Wales, resident Jan Vokes (Academy Award nominee Toni Collette) wakes every morning to begin her life of servitude to her family and community. She works mornings at the local supermarket, at mid-day cares for her elderly parents and disabled husband, Brian (Owen Teale) and in the evening’s bartends at the local Pub. Jan is a force to be reckoned with as a brave, determined, funny and full of humanity female. She’s truly an inspiration for many.
While at work one night Jan eaves-drops on a loud and boastful conversation from a Pub client, Howard Davies (Damian Lewis). Davies shares stories when he was part of a syndicate that owned a winning racehorse. Jan is inspired by Davies' stories and while she has had a go at raising rabbits, whippets, and even prize-winning pigeons, she too would like to raise a racehorse.
Jan shares her idea with Brian, her family and her friends but is not sidelined by their initial criticism and lack of support. She takes her personal savings of 300 pounds and with the help of Davies' expertise purchases a mare with fine qualities fully intending to breed her for a winning offspring.
Jan discovers that breeding and training a racehorse takes thousands of pounds more than her initial purchase so she must find a way to tap into a spring of wealth. She talks Brian into using their retirement savings for the stud fee, but they still lack thousands more. Determined not to give up on her dream, Jan persuades a crew of villagers, neighbors, and friends to contribute financially to the goal--each investing ten pounds a week to join a fledgling syndicate. They come to then own the horse together.
The mare gives birth and they name the foal Dream Alliance and try to hire the famous racehorse trainer, Philip Hobbs (Nicholas Farrell) who is not fancy to working with the less sophisticated. But Hobbs sees something to work with in Dream Alliance. Jan, the villagers, Davies and Hobbs begin the journey of a lifetime full of heartache and triumph to compete on the stage of the elite in Dream Horse. You will walk out of the theater with a smile on your face and inspired to do something remarkable.