Martin Clunes: Horse Power
Sat, 11/17/2012 - 10:00pm

Not so very long ago, everyone knew how to ride a horse. Today, the biggest link most of us still have with horses is the races. Martin's company's horse, Buffalo Stampede, is running at Fontwell racecourse in Sussex for the first time in a year since a leg injury. The horse tires and comes in last, but Martin is just glad to see it cross the finishing line without injury. The everyday traffic of horses may have vanished from London's streets. But the British monarchy still uses horses — and plenty of them — to keep tradition alive. Clunes has special access to a rehearsal of the State Opening of Parliament and rides in one of the carriages from the Royal Mews, via the Palace, into the heart of Parliament. To find out how the horse came to be associated with wealth and power, Martin heads for Asti in northern Italy. The Palio horse race dates right back to the 1200s when the local aristocracy raced their horses against each other as a way to measure up their status and superiority. Martin soaks up the thrills and dangers of the event, where the crowd treats the jockeys like football stars — or the modern equivalent of valiant knights.