James Bond Goes To The Races

The Times Online reports that the traditional horse race of Palio di Siena will serve as the backdrop of the last major action sequence in the next James Bond film.

The ‘Palio’ sees thousands of people from across the world attending the race and the race itself involves the jockeys riding their horses bareback three times around the outer edge of Tuscany’s Piazza del Campo.

Famous for its lack of rules, riders are allowed to use whips not only on their own horses but against the other contestants – bribery and doping are said to be commonplace. The winner is the first horse to cross the finish line with its head ornaments intact.

The town council at Siena has given permission for the film makers to shoot a climax in which Bond chases the villain through the steep and narrow cobbled streets and then pursues him across the rooftops and through the underground medieval aqueducts, while the horses thunder round the Campo above.

The next one happens Thursday and filming will focus on the race, with scenes involving actors inserted later. There will be fourteen cameras placed at strategic positions around the arena but helicopters have been banned.

Controversy is already erupting though as animal rights campaigners are protesting that the film would glamorise a race in which they say several dozen horses have been killed and more injured, most notably in 2004 when one broke its neck and was dragged out of the piazza.