The Third Leader: Bareback rider

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Those of us who stared admiringly at this arresting image when it first appeared were taken by many things, including Nancy's equilibrium, given the lack of reins and the angle of equine prance, which would have had most riders sliding rapidly tailwards like a small boy on the banisters.

This, though, we reasoned, was Nancy, a woman whose strength of will and indomitable composure allow her to cope with Sven Goran Eriksson, compared with whom Nature would be a cinch. Besides, we also figured, Nancy would be game for a risk in the cause of Art, as long as she wasn't relying on Sven being there to catch her.

But now, what is this? It seems that the photo was, how shall we say, finessed. Initial talk of airbrushed reins has given way to claims of full-blown digital plonking, vis-à-vis Nancy and the top of the horse. Well. You might not think this terribly serious, but it has extremely worrying implications, not least for Sven, as, after further close study, I am now beginning to wonder if there is a message in the stallion's apparent lack of its vital - and defining - equipment.

Actually, by the way and as it happens, Napoleon crossed the Alps on a mule.

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