The horse race sees 21 thoroughbred horses in competition, each representing different districts of Asti. They race in three heats on Sunday, with the first three from each heat making up the final nine to race in the grand finale. Since the horses start from behind a rope rather than stalls as on a racetrack, getting a race underway can be an event in itself. The starter encourages the riders into position and doesn’t give the order until everyone is lined up, and it can take up to 20 minutes per race for the riders to jostle and cajole their mounts into position. Another significant difference from modern horseracing is that the riders are bareback, and without a saddle, the jockeys are more likely to suffer a painful fall to the cobbles. At the edge of the track, the energy, power and speed of the horses is palpable as they fly around the triangular course, pelting photographers and spectators with a flurry of dirt, dust and thunderous noise.