The Tinman Film

This is the remarkable true story of a man so driven to win, not just once but hundreds and hundreds of times, that he puts his own life at risk. Fred Archer was a jockey – by some measures the most successful one who has ever lived.  But this feature-length screenplay has been written to appeal to a much wider audience than just the world of horseracing.  It focuses on Archer’s relationships during a crucial few years of his life, with his associates, his family, the owners and trainers, even his rivals. And this fascinating and surprising tale of  an almost-forgotten sporting hero has never before been told on film.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE LIVE TV INTERVIEW  with great grandson of Fred Archer and Founder of ArchersUp Productions, Alex Tosetti and screen-writer Grant Eustace.


It is 1886.  Fred Archer, the most successful jockey of the century, and arguably of all time, lies ill with what his doctors come to diagnose as typhoid fever. Those for whom he has ridden – among them Lord Falmouth, Lord Hastings, even the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) – express their concern. So, too, do the Dawsons, now looking after Archer’s two-year-old daughter: Mat Dawson was the trainer Archer grew up with.  Outside his house, a large press pack waits for news, because Archer is a great celebrity.  Inside, although a nurse is present, he is cared for primarily by his sister Emily.

Some of the key moments of Archer’s stellar career in the last few years are recalled.  How he passes his extensive financial affairs over to be run by the omnipresent Captain Bowling.  How he wins the 1880 Derby on the Duke of Westminster’s horse, literally single-handed, because a viciously ill-tempered horse has savaged one arm so badly it is in an iron splint.  And how also against the odds he wins the 1885 Derby (he won the race five times in all), this time for Lord Hastings.

There are questions, even in those less strict days, about whether his riding, betting, owning and advising others are conflicts of interest, and whether some jockeys are fixing races to their financial advantage.  But nothing is ever more than rumour, and indeed, many in the know are adamant that Archer is above such practices.  Winning is his concern above all else; and he rides hundreds of winners every year.

Then there are the high points of his private life.  Pursued by many ladies, including the much older (and reputedly much, much bigger) Duchess of Montrose, another owner, he nevertheless keeps an ascetic distance from the opposite sex until he meets and falls in love with Nellie Dawson, Mat’s niece.  The wedding is attended and celebrated by huge numbers of fans and wellwishers, both because of Archer’s fame and because racing is the sport of the time.  But it is a fairy tale that is not destined to last.  A son born a year later survives only a few hours, and Nellie is very ill for weeks. Although another year later she produces a healthy daughter, she herself does not last more than a couple of days.  While Archer eventually goes back to racing, because he knows no other life, he never really gets over his loss.  The large house he has built in Newmarket for his future family is empty of life and laughter.  Even the extended break he spends travelling around the United States with just two companions does not lift him from his depression entirely.

And then there is the pernicious ‘wasting’, the often extreme ways in which jockeys keep down their weight.  This is particularly punishing for Archer, since at 5’10” he is abnormally tall for a jockey, anyway; and his regime – of meals barely worthy of the name, long Turkish baths and doses of a powerful purgative – takes its toll on him.  The physical results are obvious.  But how it might affect a person mentally as well is something with which the medical profession of the time is only just beginning to get to grips.

Despite Archer’s morbid turn of mind, the high temperature brought on by his fever subsides.  At a time when only his sister is in his room with him, he has even recovered sufficiently to get out of bed.  What she does not know is that Archer keeps a revolver in his bedside table….

It is a true story.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE LIVE TV INTERVIEW  with great grandson of Fred Archer and Founder of ArchersUp Productions, Alex Tosetti and screen-writer Grant Eustace.


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