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Category: ‘Horse Racing’

Bocelli Captivates Hearts with His Majestic Voice in Winter at Tantora Festival

  • Stunning Festival of Night-Time Hot Air Ballooning 
  • Bocelli Captivates Hearts with His Majestic Voice in Winter at Tantora Festival
  • Blakeridge Indigo Wins $4M USD 120 km Endurance Horse Race

Story 1: Hot Air Balloon Festival 

Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia – February 1st-9th, 2019: A Stunning Festival of Night-time Hot Air Ballooning – sixty hot air balloons took to the sky in the region’s first Hot Air Balloon Festival offering rides to festival goers and locals alike.

Each night the balloons light up the night skies with a daily ‘glow show’.

Story 2: Andrea Bocelli’s Desert Canyon Performance

Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia – February 2, 2019:On Friday, world-renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli presented a grand artistic performance at Maraya Concert Hall as part of Winter at Tantora Festival, which was recently launched by the Royal Commission for Al-Ula. The Festival features a variety of heritage, cultural and artistic events inspired by the heritage of Al-Ula, which dates back thousands of years. It attracted a wide audience from different regions of the Kingdom and beyond.

In the inspiring concert, Bocelli sang some of his most famous songs, including “Overture”, “La donna è mobile”, “Di quella pira, Waltz” and “Donna non vidi mai”

As one of the most famous operatic vocalists of all time, Andrea Bocelli is an opera singer, songwriter and international Italian musician, credited with restoring classical music to the throne of world music lists. Born on September 22, 1958 in Lajatico, Italy, Bocelli showed great interest in music at an early age and began learning piano at the age of six. Later, he learned to play the flute and the saxophone.

“This is my first time to perform in Saudi Arabia and I am very pleased with the great reception and hospitality I received from the organizers and the wonderful audience here,” said Bocelli. “AlUla is a great surprise, it is a beautiful natural destination and it has been an honor to sing in such majestic surrounds.”

Described as having the most beautiful voice in the world, Bocelli presented a concert that reflected the splendor of his majestic voice, which inspired millions around the world. Soon after his birth, Bocelli was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, which made him partially blind. He then lost his vision completely at the age 12, after he was hit on the head during a game of football. He participated in several musical competitions and recorded his first album in 1994 in Italy. He made great success in Europe shortly after his album “Bocelli” was released. In addition, he participated in collective and cooperative works with a number of international artists and musicians, and released many albums. Bocelli was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. He received Grammy nominations for Best New Artist in 1999, for Best Sound Performance for Sogno in 2000, and for best vocal collaboration for The Prayer.

The Maraya Concert Hall:

Maraya – mirror in Arabic – is a purpose-built concert hall and an extension of the environment around it in design and beauty. It includes a comprehensive stage equipped with the latest audio and lighting technology, as well as animated rear blinds that present to the audience the beauty of the mountains of Al-Ula. The latest digital projection technology has been used to describe a historical and visual story on the same stage.

Maraya can accommodate up to 500 guests. It includes a private VIP area, a gallery for world-class artists, such as Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh, a reception area and artists rooms. Architect Massimo Fogliati, and the Italian designer Florian Buji of Geo Forma Studio designed the building that takes the shape of a huge cube covered with mirrors from its four sides to reflect the beauty of surrounding nature and the curiosity of man throughout history to explore the dazzling landscapes. Maraya will not rival the beauty of Al-Ula, but rather will reflect and highlight it while offering a unique experience for guests to unite with the pristine environment around them.

On weekends, Maraya Concert Hall will host concerts by world-renowned artists who made their mark in the field of Arab and international art. The first night of the Festival will feature a concert by the Arab artist Mohamed Abdo. The following concerts will include the Arab artist Majida El Roumi, the Arab artist Um Kulthum via hologram, the musician Omar Khairat, the Italian singer Andrea Bocelli, the Greek composer Yanni, the French violinist Renauld Capuçon and the Chinese pianist Lang Lang. They will dazzle the audience with their impressive performance and artistic sense.

Story 3: Blakeridge Indigo Wins $4M USD 120 km Endurance Horse Race

AlUla, Saudi Arabia – 27 Jumada AlAwal 1440 AH, corresponding to 2 February 2019: Held under the patronage of his Royal Highness Prince Muhammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Medinah AlMunawarah Province, awarded the winners of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, which concluded today in Fursan village in AlUla with the presence of His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, the governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

The race was also attended by the Chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Federation, his Royal Highness Prince Abdallah bin Fahd bin Abdallah and Engineer Amr AlMadani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla, as part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to strengthen AlUla’s position as an exceptional tourist destination boasting a unique heritage rich in arts, culture and sports.

At the end of the race, his Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Madinah AlMunawarah Province presented the cup to the owner of Blakeridge Indigo who completed the race in 4 hours 25 minutes 43 seconds, in the presence of His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, the Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla and His Highness Prince Abdallah bin Fahd bin Abdallah, Chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Federation. His Royal Highness Prince Faisal lauded the efforts of the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Saudi Equestrian Federation teams as well as the Emirates Equestrian Federation for the organization of the event and the great support they provided to the participants.

His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, the Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “The history of AlUla bears a lot of inscriptions that highlight the population’s interest in Arabian horses, which makes AlUla the perfect location for the launch of the prestigious Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, the biggest prize of its kind in the world, with the full support and close supervision from His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla. We are happy to see the huge efforts of the residents of AlUla as we seek to provide more job opportunities to its youth through the organization of different events and activities.” The Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla congratulated the competitors and Salem Hamad AlKutbi from M7 Endurance stables on his win.

The race was part of the Winter at Tantora festival in AlUla held in partnership with the Saudi Equestrian Federation and the Emirati Equestrian Federation to highlight the heritage of AlUla that goes back thousands of years.

The FEI sanctioned, two-star classification race covered 120 km over four loops through the magnificent mountains of AlUla, a technical course between desert and mountains. The race saw the participation of 234 riders from 12 countries around the world including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Spain, Italy, France and Uruguay.

The riders competed for a prize pot of 15 million SAR (4m USD).

Horse Wameed from M7 Endurance stables came in 2nd place who completed the race in 4 hours 25 minutes 43 seconds, and horse Razorback Mechano from MRM stables came in the 3rd place who completed the race in 4 hours 25 minutes 44 seconds.

Through Winter at Tantora, The Royal Commission for AlUla aims to promote the position and archaeological history of the city as an international tourist destination, and to eventually attract more investments and provide job opportunities to the young generation in AlUla.


00:10 – Pre-dawn 60 hot air balloons are being filled and readied on the first day of the AlUla Hot Air Balloon Festival

00:18 – Aerial shot of the balloons surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of AlUla as they start to take flight

00:31 – Sweeping shot of the balloons, some in flight some taking off

00:36 – Firing the balloons

00:41 – Wide shot of the balloons over AlUla in the early morning light

01:18 – Night shots as the balloons are readied for the nightly ‘glow show’

01:28 – The glow show

01:39 – Andrea Bocelli in “Al Maraya” concert hall, he wore a traditional Saudi headdress – a ‘shemagh’ for the final encore

01:50 – Sweeping shots of the 200 person choir and orchestra

02:30 – Close up of Andrea Bocelli, a smile across his face

03:20 – Andrea Bocelli second song

04:35 – Andrea waltzes on stage

04:53 – The start line at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance race, 7AM

04:57 – A rider cooling off his horse as he enters the first vet check

05:12 – Arabian horses are the horse of choice for Endurance racing due to their stamina and speed

05:22 – Rider leaves the vet gate for Loop 2 of the race

05:47 – One of the race vets checking the heart rate of the horse as vet check. Part of the skill of endurance racing is the balance between the horse’s condition and speed

06:12 – Horse galloping through the AlUla valley

06:20 – The three trophies and medals. The prize money for the race stood at $4m USD

06:27 – Slow motion of horses galloping through the desert landscape

06:43 – His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bun Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Madinah walking with Prince Badr Bin Farhan Al Saud, Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla

06:48 – Prize giving, Shiekh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai accepts the first-place award. His son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai accepted the second-place award.

07:00 – Ends.


Winter at Tantora Festival is held in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia from December 20, 2018 to February 23, 2019. It includes heritage, cultural and artistic activities inspired by the heritage of Al-Ula, the home of important heritage sites in the north of the Arabian Peninsula and is the meeting point of many civilizations throughout the ages. Every weekend, the Festival will host artistic events and concerts by world-renowned artists who made their mark in the field of Arab and international art.

For more information, and to ensure attendance at concerts and participation in various events, please book your tickets today at

The Laureus World Sports Awards – Berlin 2016

BERLIN, GERMANY – The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of more than 50 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen.

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams claimed the top accolades at this year’s Laureus World Sports Awards.

The tennis duo were named sportsman and sportswoman of the year at the Berlin ceremony for their 2015 achievements.

Djokovic, 28, reached all four Grand Slam finals, winning three of them, a feat emulated by Williams, 34.

Brazil’s Paralympic swimmer Daniel Dias, 27, was named disabled sportsperson of the year after winning seven gold medals at the IPC Swimming World Championships.

The Laureus World Sports Awards supports Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does to transform the lives of individuals and communities around the world by using the power of sport as a tool to combat challenging social issues. Since its inception, Laureus Sport for Good has raised over €100 million and supported over 150 projects worldwide which use sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage.


Other awards:

Team of the Year: New Zealand, who won the Rugby World Cup win

Comeback of the Year: Rugby player Dan Carter, who helped the All Blacks become champions after missing the 2011 final because of injury

Breakthrough of the Year: US golfer Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters and US Open

Action Sportsperson of the Year: German triathlete Jan Frodeno, who became World Ironman champion

Athlete of the Year: Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi

Lifetime Achievement Award: Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda

Spirit of Sport Award: Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff


Cruyff, who died of cancer aged 68 on 24 March, was recognised for his work helping to deliver sport-related projects for underprivileged children around the world.

“He represented everything that was good about sport,” said Laureus World Sports Academy chairman Edwin Moses.


For full biographies of Winners and Nominees go to

Three new members were welcomed to the Laureus World Sports Academy during the Awards Ceremony – German skier Maria Höfl-Riesch, Spanish football legend Raul and Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll.

The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy present in Berlin include: Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Cafu, Nadia Comaneci, Alessandro Del Piero, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, Morné du Plessis, Luis Figo, Sean Fitzpatrick, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Hakkinen, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Mike Horn, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Tegla Loroupe, Edwin Moses, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Alexey Nemov, Brian O’Driscoll, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raul, Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt.

Other guests included: Oliver Bierhoff, Ole Bischof, Stefan Blöcher, Fredi Bobic, Marie Bochet, Martin Braxenthaler, Bob Burnquist, Flavio Canto, Liu Cuiqing, Genzebe Dibaba, Pieter du Preez, Omara Durand, Anna Fenninger, Jan Frodeno, Regina Halmich, Lewis Hamilton, Chris Hoy, Martin Kaymer, Chloe Kim, Christa Kinshofer, Philip Köster, Stefan Kretzschmar, Nia Künzer, Jens Lehmann, Joachim Löw, Garrett McNamara, Victoria Pendleton, Jamie Redknapp, Nico Rosberg, Anna Schaffelhuber, Axel Schulz, Michael Teuber, Pascal Wehrlein, Toto Wolff, Kathi Wörndl.



1. Slate

2. GV’s 10″

3. Red carpet

3.1 Mercedes concept arriving with Laureus director and Mercedes director. 24″

3.2 Laureus director vox pop 2 quotes.

1st quote – 26″

2nd quote – 9″

3.3 more red carpet arrivals including DJoko – 11″

3.5 more red carpet arrivals including Lewis Hamilton – 26″

3.6 Lewis Hamilton vox pop – 9″

3.7 Mercedes car arrival – 7″

3.8 David Coulthard arrival – 3″

3.9 David Coulthard vox pop – 15″

3.10 Nico Rosberg arrival – 6″

3.11 rosberg vox pop – 16″

3.12 more red carpet DJoko 3″

3.13 DJoko vox pop – 27″

3.14 Lauda red carpet – 12″

3.15 Becker red carpet – 4″

3.16 Becker vox pop – 16″

4.0 trophy shots – 13″

5.0 award opening and intro – 33″

6.0 sportsman of the year award – DJoko -3’30”

7.0 life time award – Lauda – 1’36”

8.0 team award – NZ all blacks – 2’44”

9.0 breakthrough award – 58″

10.0 spirit award – 2’10”

15.0 disability award – 32″


Boomtown For Outback Races Down-under – 132nd Birdsville Races

The population of the tiny outback Queensland town of Birdsville is expected to swell from 120 to almost 10,000 when it hosts the annual Birdsville Racing Carnival.

In preparation for the influx of visitors, the remote community on the edge of the Simpson Desert has ordered 150 kilometres of toilet paper, 80,000 cans of beer and is preparing to serve 14,000 pies, pasties and sausage rolls in a 48 hour period.

Now in its 132nd year, the Birdsville Races are a “must-do” for thousands of visitors from all parts of Australia and the world who take over the tiny outback town every year for the first Friday and Saturday in September.

Daniel Moll, from Gerogery New South Wales, and his mates, are doing over 4000 kilometres round trip to be here for the races.

‘It’s a 4000 km trip and it is going to take us 5 or 6 days to get here and back, give or take a day, I don’t know how many times we stop and how we wake up tomorrow probably going to have a bit of an indication on how long it takes mate’, says Daniel

Birdsville would normally be lucky to see ten aeroplanes a week but from Thursday around four hundred aircraft will fly in, filling the town’s 1700m airstrip.

Eighty-thousand cans of beer will be sold at the races. That’s the equivalent volume of 600 filled bath tubs.

Food is also in hot demand. Dusty and Jacko run the local bakery. When they moved to Birdsville eleven years ago they had no baking experience. A lot has changed in a decade. Bakery staff have been preparing for the racing carnival for the last three months. They have made 14,000 pies, pasties and sausage rolls. That’s enough pastry to fill four football fields, a far cry from their average weekend of 200 pies.

Dusty Miller says “”
One hundred and fifty kilometres of toilet paper will be consumed over the two days. That amount of two-ply could take you from Brisbane to Noosa!

This year 238 nominations were received, a 32 percent increase. Thirteen races are being held over the two days with 137 horses lining up for a stake in the $200,000 prize purse.

The tiny outback Queensland town of Birdsville is on the Diamantina River, 1600 kilometres (two days drive) from Brisbane and just east of the Simpson Desert.

‘The atmosphere, the place where it is, nothing beats outback Southern Queensland mate, great spot to be’, says Daniel Moll.

The first horse race was held on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd of September in 1882. Back then and still today the event is largely attended by station owners, managers, stockmen and their employees. Thousands of city folk also fly in for a weekend of entertainment, fashions on the field and the glorious star-studded desert sky.

Bryan Flanagan said, ‘It’s just something I wanted to do. It was on the sort of bucket list. I’m actually involved in racing in Wodonga in NSW, I’m on the committee at the local turf club. I’ve always been involved in horse racing and planned a trip around Birdsville Races.’

Jan Watlan says, ‘Just because we’d heard about it… heard a lot about it and thought it was a bucket list item’.

The annual event is in aid of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia which takes the finest care to Australia’s furthest corners so that anyone who lives, works or travels in remote and rural Australia can enjoy the best of health.

Last year just over $41,000 was raised during the iconic Birdsville Races, a sizeable amount for one of Australia’s most remote communities.

September is the driest month in Birdsville but following rain in June an attractive display of wildflowers is on show for the race meeting.


Broadcast media, please contact:

Sep, 05, 2015



Queensland Serves Up Sand, Surf And Stirrups At The Beach Horse Races

It’s a spectacle only seen in a handful of other places around the world, horses being raced by jockeys along a stretch of pristine sand framed by a bright blue ocean.

It’s the fourth running of Mackay’s Beach Horse Racing Festival, an event where those who like horse racing as much as a day at the beach, can hedge their bets and do both at the same time.

For festival founder Mick Pope a holiday to Ireland where he witnessed beach horse racing for the first time inspired him to bring the idea back to Australia.

“I travelled through Ireland about five years and saw some racing there. It was a crappy beach, it was ordinary weather and I thought, you what? Mackay has some of the best beaches in the world: they’re flat and they’re perfect for beach racing. I thought, man, we could do it here and smash it out” says Mick.

This is a winter racing carnival where Jack Frost has definitely not been invited with up to six thousand people taking advantage of the perfect warm winter weather on Mackay’s Harbour Beach in North Queensland.

“I love going to the beach and going to the races so it’s got to be a good combination” says punter Bec Davis.

Mackay’s flat solid coastline is usually home to native wildlife like Kangaroos who visit each morning to watch the sunrise and have a beach hop. But with tides that fall a massive 150metres, for one day a year it also provides the perfect spot for beach horse racing, with many jockeys and owners preferring it to a standard turf track.

“There’s nothing more peaceful than the scenery, the sun and the sand. He loves it, that’s the most important thing” says jockey Donna Lee Gay.

With boats moored offshore and the tide out, the jockeys and their horses don’t let the sand gather between their hooves, with fast and furious racing along the 350metre stretch of sand. It’s not just racehorses that get to take to the beach, with even Shetland Ponies having their moment in the sun.

Harbour Beach runs for 3.5kilometres with organisers hoping one day, Mackay may even run its own tropical version of the world famous Melbourne Cup in Victoria, Australia.

“We are looking at getting a tropical version of the Melbourne Cup. We’ve got 4 kilometers of beautiful beach, so we can run it over 3200 kilometers and it would be the race that stops the crazy nation, not just a normal nation” says Mick Pope.

Mackay’s version of a day at the races is a pretty relaxed affair where Ascot’s top hat and tails have been ditched for board shorts and baseball caps.

“Sandals are the way to go. We wore heels this time but I imagine we might be going barefoot later on” recommends punters Bec and Sophie.

You’ll see no pricey thoroughbreds here, from stockhorses to backyard ponies and retired racehorses with their best years behind them; they’re all welcome to have a run. This is a race meet where it’s about fun in the sun more than the prize money.