Urging their mounts to a gallop, teenage jockeys dash along the dirt track at a weekly race in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou before excited spectators.
Horses have for centuries held a central place in the culture of Burkina Faso, where the national football team is called the Stallions and the Golden Stallion of Yennenga is the top prize at its pan-African film festival FESPACO.
The racecourse in Ouagadougou is delimited simply by tires set down between houses for the main event, held every Sunday.
The riders make their entrance slowly, under the gaze of a few groups of regulars.
Everyone stands up to see the start of the race, which begins in silence and small clouds of dust borne aloft by the wind of west Africa’s Harmattan dry season.
Then as the horses reach a gallop, the excitement builds up and spectators scream, laugh and point to their favourite contestants.
Beyond these Sunday contests, many Burkinabes also bet on European races more than 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) away, in Vincennes near Paris.
The horse plays a legendary role in the country, where a military junta seized power last month.
The legend says that Princess Yennenga, an ancestor of Burkina Faso’s Mossi majority ethnic group, arrived in the country on horseback after her steed ran amok during a battle.
There is no certainty about when the princess lived, sometime between the 11th and 15th centuries.
She is held to be a cherished daughter of King Naba Nedega, winning his approval to enter the male preserve of horse-riding and proving to be such a great warrior that he named her to lead his cavalry.
Hundreds of years later, Faso Alli is proud to talk about his 20 horses, which have made him one of the most famous “cowboys” in Ouagadougou.
He says that the races have won him more than 10 million CFA francs (around $17,000), a fortune in a nation where 40 percent of the people lives below the bread line on less than two euros a day.
Apart from racing, Faso Alli also excels in the art of dressage.
At night, out of sight, he leads his horses out of the city to train them in the bush.
“Lay down, it’s time to sleep,” he whispers between two loud clicks of his tongue into the ear of a horse, who immediately lies down.
After starting as a simple jockey aged 10, Faso Alli criss-crossed west Africa from Mali to Senegal, where he claims to have performed at the unveiling of the African Renaissance monument in Dakar in 2010.
Near his stable in the north of the city, young boys often proudly pace the streets on their mounts, dreaming of following in his footsteps.