Kinsale King: An Underhorse in the ‘Sport of Kings’

Recently I had the privilege of sitting down to watch a documentary about horseracing entitled Chasing the Win. The directing credits were shared by Chris Ghelfi and Laura Sheehy. 

We begin with a quote: ‘Some dreams are worth racing for.’  It is about an extraordinary race horse named Kinsale King, his trainer Carl O’Callaghan, and the owner Patrick Sheehy.  As someone who does not normally follow the sport of horse racing, I must say that Chasing the Win caught me off guard!  The unbridled passion of the filmmakers for their subject really wowed me! 

Patrick Sheehy’s goal was to purchase a horse at a low price yet still come away with a potential winner. This is how he came upon Kinsale King!  ‘In this business you have to win or you die,’ said owner Patrick Sheehy. 

On a side note, Kinsale King was named after an historic fishing port named Kinsale in the county of Cork, Ireland. Patrick Sheehy, King’s owner, is actually from Kinsale, Ireland. 

O’Callaghan took the time to personally work with and get to know the horses Sheehy bought. With intense training and a lot of love Kinsale King became a very special horse. This horse seemed to relish racing just as much as his trainer.   

In a potentially cutthroat industry where horses are often seen as expendable commodities, it was quite refreshing to see the trainer and the owner care for the horses like members of their own families! Sheehy’s and O’Callaghan’s intense respect for their fellow horses earned a lot of points in my book. 

Carl O'Callaghan, trainer of Kinsale King, went on a long journey to become successful at horse racing. The trainer of the horse started out as a working class man from Ireland. O’Callaghan later moved to the United States to chase the American dream. He was even homeless for a time. Even so he held on to his dream and stayed ever vigilant. 

In the beginning, O’Callaghan won a race called the Underwood at Hollywood Park as Kinsale King’s trainer. Upon completion of this win, others started to take notice!  After winning a subsequent race Callaghan and Sheehy were invited to take part in the esteemed World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates! 

Who won, you ask?  Kinsale King did, to the dismay of the naysayers! Watching this amazing creature cross the finish line was a highly memorable and emotional moment for all Americans witnessing the race both in person and on television. 

This win catapulted Carl O’Callaghan into racing superstardom  I found it really moving when the horse’s trainer O’Callaghan let his emotions flow freely discussing the win. I cried along with him, sharing his passion and his triumph. Never have I viewed horseracing with such unbridled passion!

Another aspect of this documentary I appreciate is the well-placed music.  Tensions are felt during the races and happiness and triumph are further realised through the successful placement of original music from Ryan DeNardo’s awe inspiring score! 

Not all of this documentary is rainbows and sunshine. There was a particularly disturbing practice captured by the filmmakers. This was the castration of horses. As barbaric as this practice is, it is quite necessary for male race horses.  In the end I feel it is no different than having your pet cat neutered or spayed.

Many years of preparation, assembly and editing were needed to craft this documentary and it shows. This film is a labour of love. Laura Sheehy and Chris Ghelfi made me a believer before the docco reached the finish line. Those who watch this uniquely crafted documentary will gain V.I.P. access to the ‘Sport of Kings’. Chasing the Win will leave the viewer feeling like a champion!

Written by Carl William Zeigler

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