ALULA: Former World Endurance Champion Gianluca Laliscia believes AlUla has the potential to become one of his sport’s top destinations and wants to use this month’s 2022 Fursan Cup to take another big step in this trip.
“As soon as I set foot in AlUla I could see the huge potential,” said Laliscia, who won the FEI World Endurance Championship in 2005 and since retiring from competition. went on to successfully found and run a number of businesses in the endurance world, including his current position as CEO and President of sistemaeventi.it, and founder of Italia Endurance Stables & Academy.
As the new Chief Sports Officer for The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, he is uniquely positioned to provide an expert perspective on AlUla.
“As a place, it has all the ingredients you would want for world-class endurance racing – natural terrain, stunning scenery, deep history and respect for horses, and a collective and heartfelt ambition. to develop the sport, both at elite level but also as a source of equestrian tourism,” he said.
“Endurance is a wonderful sport. It’s my sport. It is unique among equestrian sports in that it involves a strong connection between three key elements: the rider, the horse and nature. For me, endurance is about freedom and emotion, and AlUla definitely has the potential to become the endurance capital of the Middle East.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 is a 120 km international endurance competition organized in cooperation with the AlUla Royal Commission and the Equestrian Federation of Saudi Arabia, which will bring together more than 200 riders from more than 30 different countries. This is the third year the event has been held and offers a prize worth $4.2 million.
Participants complete the course by completing four loops that take an average of eight hours to complete.
“Endurance also has an important link with tourism, which is a very important point because the same track that international runners use can also be used by amateurs. It is like a gym in an open space” , said Laliscia.
Reflecting on his experience in Italy last May during the Longines FEI Endurance World Championship 2021 in Pisa, he said: “In Italy, where the last World Championship took place, the total amount spent by visitors in this destination during a week was around €20. million ($22.7 million). People like to come and watch endurance events; and these people are very passionate.
“So if we work well with the FEI, SEF and RCU then I 100% believe that AlUla will be the endurance capital of the Middle East because the people I’ve met here are all working towards the same goal. , which is very important.
The event will be one of the main attractions of the Winter at Tantora festival. Phillip Jones, Director of Destination Management and Marketing at RCU, said: “AlUla’s equestrian events are key pillars of what is a longer-term strategy to share the monumental beauty of AlUla with the world. AlUla as a unique place in the Arabian Peninsula and perfect for exploring on horseback.
“The RCU vision includes significant infrastructure and facilities for the sport’s elite as well as more equestrian trails and routes allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the majesty of the cultural landscape.
“The experience of horseback riding among desert splendor and rock formations creates unforgettable memories. Our third edition of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup will be no different for all of our runners.