A film exploring the mental health of jockeys and the “lonelier, darker side” of horse racing will air later this year.
The Fall, by British director and writer Nathan Horrocks, has been nominated for Best Short Drama at the London Short Film Festival. It will be screened during the LA Shorts International Film Festival, which ranks among the most prestigious and largest international short film festivals in the world, and has also received an honourable mention in the Independent Shorts Awards for Best Drama Short.
The 22-minute film is centred around the aftermath of a fall at the last fence of a race, where the horse, Habitare, would have passed the winning line in front had it not been for the fall.
The jockey, Tom, is played by Daniel Thrace. Co-director Robert Bathurst, who played David Marsden in Cold Feet, and Sir Anthony Strallan in Downton Abbey, also stars in the film.
Falls happen in the sport of horse racing, but this fall will hurt more than most. The Fall shows the issues that some jockeys face daily, in an effort to bring awareness to the viewer of the impact social media abuse has on athletes and how they feel the need to hide the pressure from colleagues and loved ones.
Habitare’s rider, Tom, has faced many rivals in his 10-year career as a jumps jockey. Some have been faster, stronger, younger, wiser; “but now he faces a different rival. A silent and anonymous opponent who he is struggling to understand”, a promo for the film says.
“Jockeys face physical obstacles daily, but the invisible obstacles which lie ahead are often the hardest to negotiate.
“This film aims to show the lonelier, darker side to horse racing; the brave face that must be put on and not show weakness.
“The Fall: The space between self and what they see, is here to highlight those struggles and how a bad result can affect everyone.”
Scenes for The Fall were filmed at Ascot Racecourse and at Lambourne.
The Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust was the film’s title sponsor with other financial backing coming from the Professional Jockeys’ Association and the mental health charity, Even Keel Foundation.
Horrocks said the film had been a passion project for many years. “The idea of The Fall came to me not long after my own battle with mental health. Losing friends like James Banks, Dean Crossman, Michael Curran and recently Liam Treadwell, gave me the drive to finish writing the film.”
In 2017 Horrocks produced the short documentary Many Clouds: The People’s Horse.