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Stars: Diane Lane, John Malkovich. Dylan Walsh, Dylan Baker, Margo Martindale, james Cromwell, Scott Glenn, Nestor Serrano, Fred Dalton Thompson

Director: Randall Wallace

Okay, we've seen the one about the champion racehorse with the long name beginning in "Se' and ending in 't'. But, unlike Seabiscuit, this account of triple-crown winner Secretariat concentrates on his owner, Penny Tweedy (Lane), an ordinary housewife whose father (Glenn) happens to own a stud farm.

Urged to sell it after her mother dies, Penny's hackles and spine stiffen and her forceful personality comes to the fore. She fires her dishonest trainer, and keeps the brood mare she wants on the toss of a coin, when renowned owner Phipps (Cromwell) makes the wrong decision. The colt from the remaining mare proves to be a big chestnut horse that Penny sees as a winner. She hires an eccentric trainer (Malkovich) and the the best jockey she can find.

As a two-hear-old, Secretariat carries all before him, but he loses his first three-year-old race, and Penny's husband (Walsh) and brother (Baker) are furious when she turns down an offer of $8million from Cromwell that would have saved the farm.

Secretariat may be one of the greatest racehorses ever seen, but his film is strictly par for the racing course. Despite enthusiastic performances, the dialogue is unexceptional, hubby telling Penny at one stage that 'You've taught me what a real woman is.' Races are convincingly staged, though, and cinematographer Dean Semler does a fine job. Lane gives a perfectly competent account of herself, though she's hardly stretched. In fact, when a film can be summed up as: here's the story of a racehorse; the horse wins', you feel there's something somewhere missing.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour by deluxe.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 Nov 2010