Hidalgo (film) The film is based on the true story of the greatest long-distance horse race ever run. Held yearly for centuries, the Ocean of Fire, a 3,000-mile survival race across the Arabian Desert, was a challenge restricted to the finest Arabian horses ever bred, the purest and noblest lines, owned by the greatest royal families. In 1890, a wealthy sheik invited an American and his horse to enter the race for the first time. Frank T. Hopkins was a cowboy and dispatch rider for the U.S. Cavalry who had once been billed as the greatest rider the West had ever known. The sheik would put this claim to the test, pitting the American cowboy and his mustang, Hidalgo, against the world’s greatest Arabian horses and Bedouin riders, some of whom were determined to prevent the foreigner from finishing the race. For Frank, the Ocean of Fire becomes not only a matter of pride and honor, but a race for his very survival. Released on March 5, 2004. A Touchstone picture. Directed by Joe Johnston. Stars Viggo Mortensen (Frank T. Hopkins), Omar Sharif (Sheik Riyadh), Zuleikha Robinson (Jazira), Peter Mensah (Jaffa), Louise Lombard (Lady Anne Davenport), Said Taghmaoui (Prince Bin Al Reeh), J.K. Simmons (Buffalo Bill Cody), Adam Alexi-Malle (Aziz). 136 min. Filmed in Cinemascope. An unbilled Malcolm McDowell appears briefly as Lord Davenport. Filming took place in Morocco, Montana, South Dakota, and California.