Summers in Saint-Tropez, winters at AlUla. That is the emerging seasonal cycle for the international polo circuit. And those two seasons marked a union of sorts from the 1st to 13th of August, when the inaugural AlUla Challenge Cup polo tournament took place at the famous Polo Club Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera.
With 10 teams battling it out and Adelante Polo Team emerging victorious, the AlUla Challenge Cup built excitement ahead of the coming 2023-24 polo and equestrian season in AlUla. Reflecting AlUla’s reputation for hospitality, the Challenge Cup included numerous social events such as AlUla Polo Kids, an exclusive Patrons’ Dinner and the prestigious closing event.
In recent years AlUla has emerged as a destination championing polo and equestrian sports with events such as Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup. And in a related vein, in March the first-ever AlUla Camel Cup attracted international celebrities such as Will Smith.
The Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo has been held annually since February 2020 and is one of the most exclusive, exciting and visually stunning annual events in Saudi Arabia. Set against the magnificent backdrop of AlUla, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Hegra, the desert polo event is an evolution of one of the world’s oldest sports and delivers unbridled luxury alongside sporting theatre on the ancient sands.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, also held annually, in March attracted 200 skilled riders from 40 countries for AlUla’s flagship endurance event. In this ultimate test of man and horse against time and the elements, 200 riders navigated 120km of rugged desert terrain – a setting quite different to other similar global competitions.
AlUla has a deep and rich horse heritage and this is being revived by our initiatives to welcome the world’s equestrians to enjoy sports, events and leisure riding trails in the unique canyons and desert landscapes. Riding horseback amongst the desert splendour and ancient rock formations, in the footsteps of past civilisations, is an unforgettable experience for both advanced and aspiring equestrians.
The equestrian sector will include two equestrian villages – at AlMutadal with a sports emphasis and AlAtheeb with a leisure and culture emphasis – that will be home to around 300 horses and ponies across 280 hectares. It will include equestrian arenas, polo fields, a horse-themed hotel, a riding school, riding trails and the Arabian Horse heritage museum.