- 200 riders from 40 countries will participate in the 120km endurance event
- Five local riders will take part, with over 40 AlUla residents also participating in stewarding and vet assistance thanks to a stringent development programme ahead of this year’s event
AlUla, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia –: AlUla’s equestrian credentials are in the spotlight with 200 of the world’s best riders taking part in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2023, the 120km event hosted by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) in partnership with the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation (SAEF) and Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) on March 4.
Riders from 40 countries, including defending champion Federico Ferber of Uruguay and Frenchwoman Margot Chazel, who finished third last year, are all set for the fourth edition of the event which is based in Fursan Village.
Ahead of the event, the RCU hosted a special press conference which was attended by Ziad AlSuhaibani, Head of Sports Sector Executive Program at Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), Phillip Jones, Chief Tourism Officer RCU, Dr. Anas Hassan, Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation, Brian Colin Dunn, Event Director, FEI, and Gérard Mestrallet, Executive Chairman AFALULA.
The press conference also included the panel discussion ‘AlUla: The Future of the Equestrian Industry on the Crossroads of Ancient Civilisations’, with Laura Richardson, Equestrian Sector Development Director, RCU, Daniel Fenaux – FEI President of the Ground Jury, and Gianluca Laliscia – Event Sport, discussing topics including the growth of equine sport and animal welfare.
Opening up the press conference, AlSuhaibani said: “We are delighted to welcome the 200 riders to AlUla for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup. The competition puts the eyes of the equestrian world on AlUla, and the stunning setting and unique sporting landscape highlight our strong credentials as a host venue for world-class international sporting events.”
Under RCU’s equine strategy, there is a major local involvement in this year’s event.
Five local riders are participating thanks to a development programme which has given a select group training, advice and technical support as well as extensive competitive experience.
Over 40 locals will also work in stewarding and vet assistance roles after being shortlisted from a group of over 80 youths for a stringent training programme in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation ahead of the event. Underscoring the event’s commitment to gender equality, 30% of the participants in the training programme were female.
Ziad added: “RCU is making extensive efforts in AlUla’s equestrian space as part of a long-term strategy to sustainably develop the sector and contribute to the area’s economy, fulfilling several objectives of Vision 2030 and the AlUla masterplan. Our efforts are creating a working hub that will generate a pipeline of local talent and ensure significant development at all levels across equestrian in the region.”
This year’s route consists of a first loop of 38.2km, with the riders then taking on a 32.1km section followed by 27.3km and 22.4km laps, showcasing the stunning landscapes, natural beauty and ancient history of the AlUla area.
Phillip Jones added: “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup offers the world a chance to see some great equestrian action, and also the extraordinary heritage and natural beauty of AlUla.
“AlUla is fast becoming a hub for many sports, from equestrian to cycling and adventure sports such as rock climbing and trail running.
“Through our efforts in sustainable and responsible development of the area, we are working hard to position AlUla as a sustainable sports regional hub, and our equine strategy is crucial to this. We are investing a significant amount of money into infrastructure, a year-round calendar of events and the development of local talent to support and grow the equestrian sector in AlUla.”
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques endurance Cup takes place on Saturday March 4.