“È un gioco, non è un corso,”* says a battered former jockey, illustrating perhaps the starkest difference between Italian horse-racing documentary Palio, and the vastly superior Senna.

In that biography of the late Formula 1 starlet, we were instantly aware what motivated our titular hero – the thrill of the chase – and this simple focus gave clarity and thrills galore.

Instead, Palio delves deep into the corruption and cheating of its subject. In doing so, we get nuance and sinister undercurrent but miss the adrenaline that is at the core of any race, be it on four wheels, or four legs.

An interesting, well-shot documentary, Palio is loaded with intrigue and handsome photography. What’s missing though, is the basic gut-churning sensation we all really crave.



DIRECTOR: Cosima Spender

WRITERS: John Hunt, Cosima Spender

SYNOPSIS: The Palio is the oldest horse race in the world, and turns the Italian city of Siena into a high-stakes battleground of strategy, intrigue, and simmering machismo. In the eye of the storm stand the jockeys – adored if they succeed, despised if they fail. 

* “It is a game, not a race”