Reluctant sportsters may empathise with Phar Lap, the ugly duckling of the 1930s Australian horse-racing scene. Despite a pedigree bloodline, the horse is unwilling to put any effort into racing, until a young 'strapper' dishes a little love into training sessions and hey presto, a winner is born. Trouble follows when he becomes too big to race in Australia and is shipped abroad, where disaster strikes...Based on fact, Wincer's film leaves a lot of unanswered questions concerning Phar Lap's fate, and echoes the horse's pace: slow start, pick up in the middle, a blinkered rush to the finishing post. The sight of the animal racing, shot in slow motion, fully reveals the beauty of the power and effort needed to win; less enjoyment, however, is to be had from the human characters, with only Leibman and Vaughan standing out as a pair of stubborn toughs. JWil.