Italy’s controversial Palio horserace could be held at Caernarfon Castle

  • Organisers of a controversial horserace are talking to Caernarfon Council about holding a race in Wales — at Caernarfon Castle.

    The Palio originated in the 1600s in Siena, Italy, and is run twice a year — in July to celebrate the Feast of Visitation and August for the Feast of the Assumption.

    Now organizers of the race are considering introducing an International Tour, which could stop off in Wales.

    Jockeys ride horses bareback around the Piazza del Campo in Siena, on a thick layer of dirt.

    The race lasts around 90seconds and the winner is the horse that crosses the finish line first with its spennacchiera — or head decorations representing its district — in tact. The horse can win with or without a rider.

    A painted silk banner, or palio, is presented to the winner. The horse that comes second is considered the loser, not the one that comes last.

    Ten horses take part — representing 10 of the 17 city wards.

    Catherine Owen from Caernarfon council told H&H: “We are not sure whether the race will be held in Wales or not yet, but we think the castle has been picked for its heritage value.

    “The initial meeting was a couple of weeks ago but at the moment we have no further update.”

    A second meeting was cancelled last week but Ms Owen confirmed it would be rescheduled as soon as possible.

    “We just have to wait and see,” said Ms Owen. “If we did host the race a lot of issues would have to be raised and questions answered.”

    The race has often been criticised by animal rights groups as many horses have been trampled and killed during the race.

    There is also a risk of injury for humans — the jockeys often fall off and spectators might be crushed in the large crowds.

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