It’s Showtime! (2024) Review – A documentary that is as much about friendship as it is about horse racing

A documentary that is as much about friendship as it is about horse racing

We can all do crazy things when under the influence of alcohol. You’ll likely have your own stories, assuming that you like the odd tipple to two, and you’re welcome to share your drunken tales with us here. But we’re betting you have never done anything like the men of It’s Showtime, a new documentary streaming on ITVX in the UK. 

The doc tells the story of a group of men from a Darlington council estate who like nothing more than getting together and downing a few pints. On one occasion in 2020, after drinking a little too much perhaps, they decided to buy a racehorse! They then clubbed together and bought the horse – who they named Showtime Mahomes (named after an NFL quarterback) – for £8000.

Surely a mistake, right? Well…no! When they raced Showtime the next year, he came second in his first two races and then came first when he won at York – the “Ascot of the North” according to Baz, one of the men featured in the documentary. 

We’re sure the guys didn’t regret their decision to buy Showtime after he took the top prize at one of the UK’s most prestigious horse racing venues. But one of the questions the documentary raises is this: Can Showtime come top again? In 2023, the men returned to York hoping for a repeat win. Did Showtime come first? You’ll have to watch the documentary to find out.

It’s Showtime isn’t just the story of a lad’s group and their horse, however. It’s also a story of friendship. These guys, who love nothing more than beer and banter, are working class to a tee. They are the kind of men you wouldn’t expect to see showing a lot of emotion, let alone eat a cucumber sandwich at a posh racing event. 

But while we don’t see them eating cucumber sarnies – burgers and sausages are more their thing – we do get to see their vulnerable sides.

During the on-camera interviews, Mike breaks into tears when he talks about the two most important women in his life – his wife and mother – who both died of cancer within a short space of time. 

In another interview, we meet Anth who, on the surface, is the joker of the pack but who has his own heartache, as we discover when he talks about the struggles he has experienced raising his non-verbal autistic son. Anth, like some of the other men in the group, has had some very dark days, but it’s his family and friendship with the guys that lift his spirits and help him to keep going.

 It’s the bond between the men that is really at the heart of the documentary. While there’s footage of Showtime at racing events, with the lads cheering on from the sidelines, this becomes secondary to the friendship group who care for and support one another. 

We should learn from their example. And when I say “we,” I’m specifically referring to those men who think its weak to talk about their feelings. Male suicide statistics are high and part of the reason why they are so high is because men don’t talk about their problems and worries.

One of the men in the programme, Mike, tells the interviewer that he didn’t think he would “be here” following the depression he experienced after his wife and mother died. But he is here and that’s largely because of the incredible friendship with the other guys featured in the programme.

So, come to It’s Showtime for the scenes of horse racing, if that’s something that interests you. But take away from the documentary the importance of sharing your feelings and finding support. While I was cheering Showtime on during the footage of him racing, I was far more invested in the lives of the men, their bond, and how their lives changed for the better when they bought a beautiful racehorse. 


Read More: It’s Showtime – Who are the men? Where are they now?

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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