Irish horse racing will be featured in a new pilot show being produced for Netflix, modeled on the hit Formula 1 documentary series Drive to Survive.
The horse racing equivalent, with the working title Ride to survive, focuses on the 2022 flat racing season. It will feature Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien and colleagues from the US, UK and France. It is produced by UK-based Ride to survive makers Box to Box Films.
O’Brien was filmed last week at his base in Co Kilkenny as producers now prepare to shoot for the Pegasus World Cup in Florida next weekend – one of the world’s richest races.
Leading trainers from the UK and US are also lining up to take part in the show. Aga Khan trainer Francis-Henri Graffard was recently filmed for production at its headquarters in Chantilly, France.
Sources with knowledge of the show’s plans said it would aim to track big names in the sport who are likely to have runners at major international events – such as the Breeders’ Cup – later this year and chart their stories throughout the season. to bring.
Box To Box Films is producing the pilot to give Netflix officials in the US an idea of what the series would look like on screen before formally agreeing to launch the series.
Sky Sports Racing was also heavily involved in the production, working closely with Box To Box Films and facilitating meetings and relationships with potential show participants from within the sport.
Box to Box Films and Sky Sports Racing declined to comment last week.
O’Brien said he hopes the documentary series, if approved by Netflix, will bring Irish horse racing into the hearts and minds of millions of new viewers worldwide.
Ride to survive has been credited with increasing interest in Formula 1 — nearly doubling the sport’s U.S. viewing figures between 2018 and last year according to broadcaster ESPN — attracting a younger crowd and attracting more visitors to racetracks.
“There’s a lot that happens in a horse race, just like in Formula 1, that isn’t captured on a race broadcast,” O’Brien said.
“That really struck me” Ride to survive and probably now we can give people that extra insight. It can attract a new audience, a younger audience.
“Perhaps interest from people who hadn’t thought of going to a race meeting or who hadn’t seen horse racing as a sport with the storylines and things going on behind the scenes — the work it takes to get a horse to the track to get to, the characters and people, their stories and how they got to where they are today.”
O’Brien said part of the appeal of Ride to survive was the unprecedented access it gave viewers and after seeing how the filming was done in its own yard, he expects this to be replicated with horse racing.
“They were here all weekend from Friday night to Sunday, filming pretty much everything from running in the yard first thing in the morning, meeting people around the yard, some jockeys.
“They saw the horses being trained and then there was a pretty lengthy interview that I did. They also spent time with some of our employees, interviewing them and shadowing them for the weekend.
“In racing, there are some great behind-the-scenes characters and great stories, but in horse racing, the horses are the star of the show, so of course they’ll be prominent as well.”