ALSO SHOW­ING

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Cinema - All The Wild Horses is show­ing at the IFI AINE O'CON­NOR

All The Wild Horses Club Cert; Now show­ing, IFI

When Ivo Dar­loh first heard about the Mon­gol Derby he wanted to par­tic­i­pate and, hav­ing rid­den horses since child­hood, he was a good can­di­date for the world’s long­est horse race, 1,000km across the Mon­go­lian Steppe.

He passed the rig­or­ous en­try re­quire­ments, paid the $13,000 fee and took part in both 2013 and 2014, where his idea to do a video diary of the event ex­panded to be­come a fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary. Shot as both par­tic­i­pant and ob­server, it gives a unique over­view of an ex­tra­or­di­nary feat and among the prizes the film has won is Best In­ter­na­tional Fea­ture at the Gal­way Film Fleadh.

It’s a vis­ually strik­ing film, and al­though footage was shot over sev­eral years the feel is of one race and one set of par­tic­i­pants. It opens with a good ex­pla­na­tion of the back­ground to the race, how it works and why. It’s based on Genghis Khan’s postal de­liv­ery ser­vice, a set of stages, 25 ur­tuus (horse sta­tions) where the horses are changed ev­ery 40km. The rid­ers’ race po­si­tion is de­ter­mined not only by where they come in, but by the health of their horse. An over­worked horse will in­cur a time penalty.

Dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties and mo­ti­va­tions emerge, with some com­peti­tors al­most ex­clu­sively goal­based, oth­ers more in­ter­ested in the ex­pe­ri­ence. Among the rid­ers Dar­loh fol­lows are Irish jock­eys Donie Fahy and Richie Kil­lo­ran, there on a plan hatched while Donie was re­cov­er­ing from a bro­ken back just a year ear­lier. Via the rid­ers too there is a great sense of how dif­fi­cult the race is both in terms of the en­vi­ron­ment and in terms of the health risks — from heat and the es­sen­tially wild horses’ pen­chant for buck­ing the rid­ers.

Even the most de­ter­mined rid­ers can’t al­ways beat the odds and along the way some suc­cumb to ail­ments — from a punc­tured lung to frac­tured ver­te­brae.

It’s al­ways fas­ci­nat­ing to see peo­ple who ac­tu­ally do in­stead of dream.

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