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`Quantum` featured Siena Palio race modified by health and safety rules this year

29-Jul-2009 • Quantum Of Solace

The dramatic medieval spectacle of the Palio in the Italian city of Siena is to be tamed by new health and safety rules aimed at cutting injuries among horses and riders - reports the Telegraph.

The race, which sees ten horsemen compete bareback around the city's Piazza del Campo dressed in the colours of Siena's different wards, has attracted thousands of visitors each year and was featured in the 22nd James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, starring Daniel Craig.

But just two weeks before this year's race, the organisers have been told by government that there are to be major changes, following the death of one man and injury of three others in another palio in Sardinia.

The traditional whips or nerbi used with abandon on both horses and riders in the frenetic three-lap competition have been outlawed, and horses will have to be over four years old and pass strict anti-doping checks.

Rider could also be breathalysed to ensure they have not partaken of sharpeners before the race.

The new rules were motivated by the death of 44-year-old Roberto Pisanu, who fell from his horse shortly after the start of the race in Sedilo and suffered a fractured skull. Three other rides also fell during the race and one was treated for a spinal injury.

But while they were applauded by the organisers of the Siena race, Sedilo's mayor did not welcome the government intervention.

"Ours is a special competition", he was quoted by The Independent as saying, adding that it "expressed the true Sardinian identity".

Siena's Mayor, Maurizio Cenni, said the new rules were no bad thing. "Siena boosted its safety and animal protection measures some time ago, and we believe this ordinance can only improve the situation further,'' he said.

However, animal rights activists still want an outright ban on the races, which take place all over Italy although Siena's is the most famous. According to Italy's main animal rights group, LAV, 48 animals have died since 1970 as a result of the Siena Palio.

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