Spirit of a Champion (animated or live action feature film)

Logline: A heart touching family entertainer about two horses from different mothers that were brought up by the same mother horse, getting separated by fate, a daughter who looked after the horses getting separated from her loser father, to meet on the same racing track years later to compete each other, after several adventures.
One autumn morning Joanne and Tom Roberts goes camping to the highlands with their ten year old daughter Emma and their prized stallion Shining Star and the broodmare Emprize. The two horses are loaded in the van trailer and brought to the campsite. They set up their tents and then set out discovering the wilderness riding the horses; Emma sharing Shining Star with her father. Coming to a narrow mountain ledge, Joanne does not want to tread upon it, but Tom, high on adrenalin, takes it as a challenge. More like her father than her mother, Emma wants to have the thrill too. Joanne vehemently objects but her protests notwithstanding Tom begins negotiating the ledge astride Shining Star with Emma in pillion clutching tightly her father’s waist.

Halfway up the ledge, Shining Star slips. Lucky for Emma, she releases herself before the horse goes tumbling down. Falling on the ledge she barely manages to hold on to a rock. Tom and Shining Star are not so fortunate. Thrown off the horse, Tom tumbles down the slope and collides onto a rock. Shining Star goes further down into the ravine. Joanne retrieves Emma who is not hurt except for minor scratches. Her husband and the horse are beyond her reach; she calls 911. A helicopter arrives on scene and retrieves Tom and Shining Star. John is fortunately alive, though badly hurt and unconscious. Shining Star is dead.

After Tom is sent to the hospital, Joanne and Emma bury Shining Star. Shining Star was like her son; Joanne was heartbroken and no longer the woman she was before. Emma is no longer the lively girl she was before. Emprize, an ardent admirer of Shining Star who had been bred with the stallion only days before the fatal accident, is heartbroken too.

Tom recovers after several major operations. Returning home, he is looked after by his wife and daughter. Riddled with guilt and grief he cannot deal with his new situation. With Shining Star – the champion stallion winning a number of races – gone, the main source of revenue is gone too; the family is now in a financial crisis. Joanne has gone grim and quiet, she barely speaks. Unable to cope with the trauma Tom takes to drinking. Joanne loses her cool one day and blasts her husband.

Tom leaves home that night, leaving a note. When asked by her daughter when he will come back, Joanne says stoically he won’t and tells her daughter to deal with it. In order to improve things Joanne adds a mare Noble Flirt to the stable. At first Emprize is reluctant, but then befriends Nobel Flirt. Nobel Flirt helps Emprize to get over her grief and the two helps Emma get over her trauma.

Joanne wants her daughter to concentrate more on her studies but her disapproval notwithstanding, Emma gets closer to the horses and develops a great bond with them. Nobel Flirt was a race horse and unbeknown to her mother Emma begins riding her.

(All this happens within a couple of months/three months of the accident).

Nobel Flirt is bred with E.L. Titan. Emprize gives birth to a filly who is named Elena. A couple of months later, Nobel Flirt gives birth to a colt. She dies soon after giving birth, telling her friend to look after her newborn. The colt is named Junior. Emprize raises both Elena and Junior as her own. A great bond develops between the two, and between them and Emma. After’s Emprize’s death due to a disease, Emma is the one who takes them in her fold. Both have great speed and Emma loves riding both. Joanne, realising her daughter’s penchant for riding, lets her toy with the idea that one day she will make champions out of both the horses.

Joanne adds a captured brumby to her stable. Fresh from the wild, the stallion named Toughguy is broken with much difficulty. In captivity he teases other stallions and colts of being submissive and slaves of man. His strong and haughty demeanour invokes a lot of interest among the mares and every mare in the stable desires to be coveted by him. Though very much in love with Junior, influenced by the gossips of other mares, Elena cannot help being interested in Toughguy, making Junior envious and insecure.

One day Junior objects to Toughguy’s blabber about men saying not all men are bad. It results in a fight between the two. Junior is badly hurt but he does not bow to Toughguy’s aggression. The fight is finally stopped by Joanne and Emma. Elena is proud to hear about (or witness) Junior’s resistance and no longer bothers him talking about Toughguy.

A few days later Toughguy seizes an opportunity and escapes.

Losing another stallion she was pinning her hopes upon, a troubled Joanne cannot resist being tempted by an offer that comes her way and decides to sell Elena. She finalises the lucrative deal without Emma’s knowing. When Elena comes to know about it, she slips under the truck ferrying Elena (or follows it in a motor bike) and the truck stopping at a gas station in the mountainous region a long distance from home, she unbolts the door. Elena comes out, but before Emma can straddle her, she is spotted and fired upon by the truck driver. Elena runs into the wilderness while Emma escapes on her bike. She is recognised. Fortunately, moved by Joanne’s ardent plea, Elena’s new owner Richard Bloomberg decides not to level any charge on her. A relationship buds between Richard and Joanne.

Elena roams the wilderness all alone and afraid. Approached by a wild stallion she fights to ward him off. She is on the verge of surrendering when Toughguy appears and saves her. He takes Elena into his fold and brings him to the herd he has become the master of. Elena has no option but to be a part of the herd. Toughguy showers upon her more attention and affection than any other mare, inspite of the fact Elena would not let him to get close beyond a point. Toughguy’s bragging and aggressive nature annoys her and she misses home and Junior. Toughguy is in no hurry. Knowing Elena has nowhere else to go, he waits for her to grow some more and forget her past.

But Elena would not and when one day losing patience Toughguy wants to win her over by force, she runs. Toughguy chases her, but soon realises Elena with her great speed is no easy catch. The two horses come to a terrain we are familiar of. The chase is noticed by someone from above. Having no choice Elena moves up the narrow ledge, very slowly and fearful. For Toughguy it is cakewalk. He nears Elena slowly but steadily… The person watching the two from above through binocular vision realises Elena would rather jump than surrendering to the aggressor. The moment she takes the jump, a lasso falls upon her making her hang by it. Toughguy is stunned by the happening and he slips and tumbles down into the gorge. Elena is pulled up by Tom Roberts.

He had been wandering like a drifter ever since he left his wife and daughter and coming back to the place where his demise started. Now, saving Elena he redeems himself. Having witness her great speed, Tom takes Elena under his tutelage with the mission of turning her into a great race horse. Soon Elena finds a place in Tom’s heart as his second daughter and is trained by him with equal measures of love and rigor. There had been few mares in racing history to have won major races; Tom is determined to make Elena achieve the near impossible feat. Elena is determined no less.

Junior, on the other hand, is trained by a very experienced trainer who also trains the horses owned Richard Bloomsburg. Emma is not happy with her mother’s relationship with Bloomberg but she has no option but to accept it. Bloomberg on his part tries his best to make himself amenable to the teenager. Emma grooms Junior and rides him as well, with plans of jockeying him. The first race Junior participates with Emma jockeying her is a baby race and he comes third getting a lot of media attention. He does well in more baby races.

Having prepared Elena well enough and making her win a few baby races in another part of the continent, Tom gets the opportunity to put Elena in a stake race at the last moment when one of the participating colts falls ill. He did not know about Junior and the fact Emma would be riding him in the very same race. Neither did Emma know Elena would be participating and Tom is her owner.

The race begins. Leaving the other horses behind, Elena and Junior surge ahead and runs side by side. Suddenly they recognise each other and letting out loud whinnies stops running. Emma is nearly thrown off Junior’s back. The jockey riding Elena is indeed thrown off. The two lovers hug resting their head and necks over each other’s, stunning the audience. Emma recognises Elena. Forgetting the race, she cuddles her and Junior all tears.

In the stands, separated by the dumbfolded audience, Joanne and Tom watch the scene. Tom recognises Emma who is now out of gear and his eyes flood. Joanne recognises Elena and is emotional no less. She enquires about Elena’s owner. Someone points to Tom. Seeing Joanne, Tom hurriedly leaves. But Joanne has spotted him despite his dark glasses and bearded face.

At the track Emma asks Junior’s jockey about his owner; the jockey tell her he knows the owner only by the name Mr. T. Emma asks him to take her to him, but learns Mr. T has left the venue. The groom also knows him by the name Mr. T and is not sure about his whereabouts. The only info she gets is of the stable where Junior is kept. Junior and Elena let out blood curdling whinnies as Elena is taken away by her groom. Emma is in tears. Joanne comes and placates Emma promising her she would enquire about Elena and her owner.

The incident causes quite a stir. But Richard Bloomberg, a no nonsense man, is unaffected by it. He had put a lot of money on Junior. Losing that he is angry, both on the horse and his jockey. Joanne catches up with Tom as he is about to leave town with Elena. She pleads Tom not to disrupt her and Emma’s lives now that they have taken up the pieces and moving on. She urges Tom not to race Elena anymore for Emma’s sake. She is on her way of making Junior a champion and Elena would only be a hindrance on her path. Tom agrees and leaves with Elena.

Emma suspects her mother is hiding the truth from her when Joanne tells her she could not find Elena and her owner. Discreetly, she begins enquiring herself. Though not losing focus on her mission, she brings Junior out of his trauma and trains him hard for the upcoming races.

Getting over her trauma, Elena wants to be trained like before. But Tom won’t train her anymore. That sends Elena into depression. Tom realises Elena wants to race and realize her potential; he is thrown into a tormenting dilemma. Which daughter’s desire should he give preference to? He begins to train Elena again and makes her participate in insignificant races hoping no one would take notice of her minor feats.

But eager to pick up any news of Elena, Emma has her eyes on every race taking place in every corner of the world. And days before The Maple Leaf Trot, she comes across a piece of news with Elena’s photo on it. The mare Faraway Dreams has the potential to win major trophies, the article says. Convinced Faraway Dreams is none other than Elena, Emma makes further queries and knowing about the owner’s whereabouts, comes to Tom’s place without her mother’s knowing.

Father and daughter have a tearful reunion. Emma tells her father it would be grave injustice to Elena if she is not allowed to race as Junior does. She dismisses her mother’s concern about her and Junior and convinces Tom to take Elena to Ontario and make her race in The Maple Leaf Trot.

Tom brings Elena to Ontario. The night before the race Emma brings Junior to Elena and Tom. Hoping desperately they would understand her, she talks to both the horses urging them to run to their fullest, not letting the other win. Tom tells Elena if she truly loves Junior she should give him a run for his money. What he does not understand and neither does Emma, is that Elena is telling Junior the same thing: that if he truly loves her he would not give her an inch and let her be a champ on own right. Junior promises.

Amidst a packed crowd the much anticipated race is about to begin. Joanne gets tense the moment she sees Faraway Dreams, aka Elena. She has convinced Richard to put his money on Junior one last time. Minutes before the race, she goes to Tom and pleads him to withdraw Elena. Her prospective marriage with Richard would be at stake if anything like before happens, she says. But Tom has already committed himself to his daughters. It is about their self worth. He won’t stop them from becoming what they really are. If that meant competing with each other or a mishap in the process, let it be so.

Joanne returns to Richard. Richard notices Elena too and goes very grim. The race begins. Leaving the other horses behind, Junior and Elena sprint ahead. None would give an inch to the other. The crowd watches in breathless anticipation, half cheering for Junior, the other half for Elena. Joanne and Richard are on the edge. Tom watches as if he is in a trance, not knowing whom to cheer for.

Almost synchronised, Junior and Elena cross the finish line together. It is way too close to call. The image of the photo finish is sent to scrutiny. After several agonising minutes, during which Junior, Elena and Emma chat and poke fun at one another much to people’s surprise, it is finally announced the two horses has finished in a dead heat setting a new world record. The crowd erupts into a massive cheer. Richard is happy and Joanne is relieved. The happiest and the proudest father in the world, Tom approaches Elena, Emma and Junior who remain chatting without a care of the ways of the world, just like they did when they were kids.