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Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding star in new Amazon documentary Horsepower
There are many beautiful shots and some compelling facts in Horsepower, a four-part documentary set to go live on Friday on Amazon Prime Video, but it certainly won’t be the cross-hit it does to racing what Drive To Survive does for Formula 1 The production team seems to cherish such hopes, but judging by the evidence for the first two episodes, which were previously provided to reporters, the cast of characters is too narrow and the drama spread too thinly to make eyes go beyond the scope of the sport. Established fan base.
Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding are two of the big names involved, giving the producers plenty of access from fall 2020 to summer last year. The final episode will apparently focus on the 2021 Royal Ascot, which turns out to be a huge week for both men.
Those behind the cameras must have thought they stumbled for the gold on Friday of that week, when Murphy lost the Commonwealth Cup in back-to-back races in the stewards’ room and then relegated to the podium aboard Alcohol Free. The skilled’s career for the previous nine months is a major source of hope and expectation in the Balding yard, as shown by Horsepower, so producers must naturally have seen this as the perfect pinnacle to finish.
Unfortunately, it has since emerged that Murphy broke Covid rules with a trip to Mykonos around the time filming began. As a result of this and two failed breath tests for alcohol, he was banned from riding the race anywhere in the world for the whole of this year, a fact that has been in the public domain for seven months but apparently won’t. It is handled by horse power.
– Oisin Murphy (@oismurphy) September 22 2022
This decision (production ended when the news broke and the case was complicated) can be interpreted as a mistake. How do you convince viewers that they understand the story from the inside when you fail to mention the one thing most of them know about your main character?
For committed racing fans, there is plenty to enjoy, including great photos of horses in Hampshire. He gets along well with several of Balding’s employees, including Kamiko’s loving groom Marie Perrault, who has become extremely nervous over the prospect of a trip with him to the United States.
Cassia Cooper, the soft-spoken working jockey credited with turning Alcohol Free, appears, upon a little knowledge, to be a potential superstar. Cooper pets a filly at the start of her three-year-old season, cheerfully telling the camera, “Her butt looks a lot bigger now.”
Then there is the incredible story of Abd al-Karim Musa Adam, a Sudanese refugee who was somehow drawn into the yard after arriving, we are told, in England in the arch of a truck wheel. Having established himself as an important contributor, he returns to Africa to comb the refugee camps for his long-lost younger brother, leaving the staff’s mother figure Anna Lisa Balding to the side of herself in fear.
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
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Documentary shows Andrew Balding apron was an impressive costume, but at times it felt like a Kingsclere promo
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Both Baldings are likable, but there are a lot of them in the first two episodes as other characters might have been developed. The project feels very controlled and at times risks appearing as a Kingsclere promo rather than something more independent and insightful.
Although Murphy’s recent ban is not mentioned, there is no further sign of him making friends with the editor. He appears to be rude to his driver. He is bitter about the three-month cocaine ban, which appears several times, and his problems with alcohol are being addressed.
We see him pouring a bottle into the sink. He tells us, “I feel like I’ve crossed a corner. I’m in a really good place.”
Andrew Balding is more insightful, speaking as early as 2021. “Oisen has had a really tough year ahead,” he says. “At some point, he has to make a decision, what he wants to focus on.”
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