Horse dies in practise day before Siena’s Palio race (IT)

Italian FlagSiena’s famous Palio horse race has been plunged into fresh controversy just a day before it is due to be held, after a horse died in agony during a practise run.

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A horse smashed into a barrier and died during training Friday for a famed race around a historic Italian city’s cobblestone piazza, leading to calls from animal rights groups for a suspension of the risky bareback contest.

The horse Messi smashed into a barrier on a notoriously dangerous curve and died soon thereafter, according to the website of Siena’s city hall. The ANSA news agency said the horse was a six-year-old bay.

NICK SQUIRES writing from Rome for The Telegraph reports:

The tragedy prompted animal rights groups, which have long criticised the pageant as cruel and barbaric, to urge that Saturday’s race be cancelled.

Veterinarians were called to try to save the horse but itshis injuries were too severe and ithe reportedly died of cardiac arrest and shock.

ItsHis death means that there will be one less ‘contrada’ or medieval district of Siena, contesting Sunday’s race.

The death revived the debate over the tradition, which dates back in its current form to the mid-17th century.

One of Italy’s most prominent animal rights organisations, LAV, called for the Palio to be scrapped and for the opening of an independent investigation into the accident.

“We believe the Palio should be suspended as a sign of respect,” the organisation said in a statement.

The race had been “stained with the blood of another innocent victim”.

Since 1970 around 50 horses have died after falling, colliding or being trampled in the breakneck race, which normally lasts less than two minutes.

Authorities in Siena said the event would continue as normal.

Siena’s Palio, the most famous of several historic horse races held in Italy, takes place twice a year – on July 2 and Aug 16.

Italy’s tourism minister Michela Brambilla blocked the centuries old Palio horse race from being nominated for World Heritage status over concerns about animal cruelty.

The move angered local politicians and residents who say it is a “cultural spectacle” that should be included.

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    Add your important voice. Join the Int’l Fund for Horses — who are protesting this race and calling for the cancellation of the August 16th race as well as the permanent removal of the Palio horse race from Italy’s events calendar — by sending your comments to (1) the Italian Embassy in your country, and (2) the Italian Ministry of Tourism Office.

    If you only have time to send one email, please send it to the Italian Ministry of Tourism Office.

    Send them a message via their online contact form.


    WASHINGTON D.C. — Embassy of Italy
    Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata (Mr)
    Address: 3000 Whitehaven Street, NW Washington DC 20008 USA
    Tel: (202) 612-4400 — Fax: (202) 518-2151
    E-mail: Press and Public Affairs at and Cultural Affairs at

    LONDON ENGLAND — Embassy of Italy
    Ambassador Alain Giorgio Maria Economides (Mr)
    Address: 14, Three Kings Yard, London W1K 4EH
    Tel: +44 (0)20 73122200 — Fax: +44 (0)20 73122230
    Email: Press, Public Diplomacy and Culture at

    OTTAWA CANADA — Embassy of Italy
    Ambassador Andrea Meloni (Mr)
    Address: 275 Slater Street, 21st Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H9 CANADA
    Tel: (613) 232-2401 — Fax: (613) 233-1484
    Email: Office of the Ambassador at

    Thank you.


    1 thought on “Horse dies in practise day before Siena’s Palio race (IT)”

    1. I have sent e-mails to all the addresses in this post. Next week after the 4th holiday I will call the Embassy in Washington and let them know that this race is barbaric, cruel, horrendous and unnecessary. It is dangerous not only for the horses but the riders who choose to partake of this cruel activity.


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