(ANSA) - Siena, August 16 - The contrada di Valdimontone neighbourhood association emerged victorious in Thursday's Palio di Siena horse race as crowds of onlookers and fans cheered on bareback jockeys running laps around the central square of the Tuscan town at breakneck speed. Italian Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri was amongst those watching the race. Ten horses, each representing a neighbourhood group called a contrada, compete to win the Palio di Siena race, an 11th-century Christian festival that honours the Virgin Mary. The Valdimontone contrada won Thursday's race with its horse Lo Specialista, or The Specialist, mounted by jockey Jonatan 'Scompiglio' ('Havoc') Bartoletti. Animal activists have slammed the race for years as being cruel, as over 50 horses have been killed in the past 40 years.