Twice a year in Sienna, Italy, the city wards compete in a frantic horse race known as Il Palio. The race dates to medieval times and pits ten of the best riders and horses, representing ten of the seventeen contrade (city wards), against each other in a bareback dash at breakneck speed around the Piazza del Campo. The course is tight with sharp turns and is hemmed in closely by cheering spectators. The difficulty of the course and the great honor to be had in victory make for an unpredictable and somewhat chaotic spectacle that is typically over in 90 seconds. Jockeys are often thrown and horses are known to finish the race riderless.