Italy

The Sardinian Jockey’s Dream

Ever since the 1950s they’ve been emigrating from the Barbagia region of Sardinia to try and conquer the Palio di Siena

Almost sixty years have now passed since that June of 1964, when the unknown Andrea Degortes, nicknamed “Aceto”, raced in the Palio di Siena for the first time. But the 21-year-old Aceto wasn’t from Tuscany: he was from Sardinia, the island that has produced some of the world’s best jockeys. Aceto emigrated like many others, fleeing poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, and found success in Siena: the Sardinian champion would go on to register a record 14 wins in the Palio.
Since then many young Sardinians – particularly from the Barbagia region – have tried to follow in Aceto’s footsteps: to leave the island and realise their dream of one day winning the Palio di Siena. But this dream calls for talent, discipline and hard work: getting up at dawn to tend to the horses, training every single day, taking on other jockeys in training races, with just one goal in mind: to race, and win, in the spellbinding Piazza del Campo.