For Love Of A Horse

Chasing The Win
With Comments By: Carl O’Callaghan, Patrick Sheehy, Dennis Sheehy, Mike Smith, Randy Moss, Martin Garcia, Garret Gomez, Judd Fischer and Nick Luck
Direction/Cinematography: Laura Sheehy and Chris Ghelfi
Composer: Ryan Denardo
Documentary (with some subtitles)
Indie Rights
Rating: No Rating But Could Be PG
Running Length: 81 Minutes

The world of horse racing, or The Sport Of Kings, is shown in a family way in this documentary by Laura Sheehy and Chris Ghelfi. Since a great part of this documentary is in European countries, there are subtitles in sections where it may be difficult to discern speech. The champion horse is Kinsale King, the owner family are the Sheehy’s and the trainer is Carl O’Callaghan.  Now, it is off to the races.

Camera work is fine and puts the audience atop the horse as he races down the track. You feel the bumps and jars that the jockey feels.  You are also there in the stable, watching training, traveling, racing on various track surfaces and relaxing.  Yes, race horses relax by rolling in sand. The audiences celebrate with wins (watch trainer Carl O’Callaghan in Dubai) and the losses, and yes, the losses. Is it worth it? Is owning a race horse a profitable venture? Look at these statistics: according to the film, the numbers are against you all the time, three percent of horses win, and the cost to keep them that includes medical care, lodging, food, and personnel. One of the horses Kinsale King runs against is called “Star Spangled Banner,” and when this horse retires at stud, the owner had already invested ten million dollars in the horse. Kinsale King? He is a gelding, and though there are explanations as to why this happened, you sense the loss.

The world of horse racing is a glamourous one and we watch Kinsale King and the owner family as they travel to Dubai for the World Cup, are invited to the Royal Ascot in England, the Breeder’s Cup at Churchill Downs and others. Horses have special compartments on airplanes, but one can wonder what this change in air pressure does to their hearing. We also see the difference in the tracks horses race on from gravel to grass.

We see how racing families look for racing qualities in that special horse and carefully check pedigrees that go back generations, plus, and look for the big heart. Remember “Secretariat” had a heart much larger than the average horse, thus endurance and speed.

I would have preferred more information on how the Sheehy family chooses their jockeys who ride atop a muscular machine for a few minutes of glory and in one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Horses have personality and I remember attending a race at the now defunct race track, Aksarben, in Nebraska.  A favorite horse there, Jax, was retiring. His colors were green and white. Jax must have known this was his last time in the spotlight, as he preened and posed for the camera, pom-poms in his mane and woven in his tail,  and I think if he could have waved to the cheering crowd, he would have done it.

Now to the trainer, Carl O’Callaghan, who was Kinsale King’s trainer and we see that Carl rose through the ranks to have his own training stable with over 20 horses and a staff of fourteen, who share in the profits of the win. Trainers have to have a special friendship with their horses.

“Chasing The Win” is a good documentary with heart and shows the life of a champion race horse and what happens after the glory days are past.  Even though you may not have attended a horse race, you will be intrigued by what goes into training, food (a bit of beer in the hay), and the friendships that develop. This is the positive side of racing.

Copyright 2019 Marie Asner